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Temporal Cycle

Under this heading of Proper of the Time, we here comprise the movable Office of the Sundays and Ferias of Advent. Though anxious to give to the faithful the flowers of the Advent liturgy, yet were we to bring forward even those which might be considered as the choicest, four volumes would have barely sufficed. The fear of making our work too expensive to the faithful, persuaded us to limit it within much narrower bounds, and out of the abundant treasures before us, to give what we thought could be least dispensed with.

The plan we have adopted is this: We give the whole of the Mass and Vespers for the four Sundays of Advent. On the ferial days, we give one, at least, of the lessons from Isaias, which are read in the Office of Matins; adding to this a hymn or sequence, or some other poetic liturgical composition. All these have been taken from the gravest sources, for example, from the Roman and Mozarabic breviaries, from the Greek anthology and menæa, from the missals of the middle ages, &c. After this hymn or sequence, we have given a prayer from the Ambrosian, Gallican, or Mozarabic missal. So that the faithful will find in our collection an unprecedented abundance of liturgical formulæ, each of which carries authority with it, as being taken from ancient and approved sources.

We have not thought it desirable to give a commentary to each of the liturgical formulæ inserted in our work. It seemed to us that they would be rendered sufficiently intelligible by the general explanation which runs through our work, in which explanation we have endeavoured to excite the devotion of the reader, give unity to the several parts, and afford solid instruction. We shall thus avoid all those repetitions and commonplace remarks, which do little more than fatigue the reader.

We have inserted the Great Antiphons and the Office of Christmas Eve in the proper of the saints, because both of these have fixed days in the calendar, and to put them in the proper of the time, as they stand in the breviary and missal, would have required us to introduce into a book, destined for the laity, rubrics somewhat complicated, which would, perhaps, not have been understood.

For more information on the season of Advent, visit here.

We apply the name of Christmas to the forty days which begin with the Nativity of our Lord, December 25, and end with the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, February 2. It is a period which forms a distinct portion of the Liturgical Year, as distinct, by its own special spirit, from every other, as are Advent, Lent, Easter, or Pentecost. One same Mystery is celebrated and kept in view during the whole forty days. Neither the Feasts of the Saints, which so abound during this Season; nor the time of Septuagesima, with its mournful Purple, which often begins before Christmastide is over, seem able to distract our Holy Mother the Church from the immense joy of which she received the good tidings from the Angels[1] on that glorious Night for which the world had been longing four thousand years. The Faithful will remember that the Liturgy commemorates this long expectation by the four penitential weeks of Advent.
[1] St Luke ii 10.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Christmas)

For more information on the season of Christmas, visit here.

This third section of the liturgical year is much shorter than the two preceding ones; and yet it is one of real interest. The season of Septuagesima has only three weeks of the Proper of the Time, and the feasts of the saints are far less frequent than at other periods of the year. The volume we now offer to the faithful may be called one of transition, inasmuch as it includes the period between two important seasons—viz., Christmas and Lent. We have endeavoured to teach them how to spend these three weeks; and our instructions, we trust, will show them that, even in this the least interesting portion of the ecclesiastical year, there is much to be learned. They will find the Church persevering in carrying out the one sublime idea which pervades the whole of her liturgy; and, consequently, they must derive solid profit from imbibing the spirit peculiar to this season.

Were we, therefore, to keep aloof from the Church during Septuagesima, we should not have a complete idea of her year, of which these three weeks form an essential part. The three preliminary chapters of this volume will convince them of the truth of our observation; and we feel confident that, when they have once understood the ceremonies, and formulas, and instructions, offered them by the Church during this short season, they will value it as it deserves.

For more information on the season of Septuagesima, visit here.

We begin, with this volume, the holy season of Lent; but such is the richness of its liturgy, that we have found it impossible to take our readers beyond the Saturday of the fourth week. Passion-week and Holy Week, which complete the forty days of yearly penance, require to be treated at such length, that we could not have introduced them into this volume without making it inconveniently large.

The present volume is a very full one, although it only comprises the first four weeks of the season of Lent. We have called it Lent; and yet the two weeks of the next volume are also comprised in Lent; nay, they are its most important and sacred part. But, in giving the name of Lent to this first section, we have followed the liturgy itself, which applies this word to the first four weeks only; giving to the two that remain the names of Passion-week and Holy Week. Our next volume will, therefore, be called Passiontide and Holy Week.

For more information on Lent, visit here.

After having proposed the forty-days’ fast of Jesus in the desert to the meditation of the faithful during the first four weeks of Lent, the holy Church gives the two weeks which still remain before Easter to the commemoration of the Passion. She would not have her children come to that great day of the immolation of the Lamb, without having prepared for it by compassionating with Him in the sufferings He endured in their stead.

(From Chapter 1: The History of Passiontide and Holy Week)

For more information on Passiontide and Holy Week, visit here.

WITH this volume we begin the season of Easter, wherein are accomplished the mysteries prepared for, and looked forward to, since Advent. Such are the liturgical riches of this portion of the Christian year, that we have found it necessary to devote three volumes to it.

The present volume is wholly taken up with Easter Week. A week is indeed a short period; but such a week as this, with the importance of the events it brings before us, and the grandeur of the mysteries it celebrates, is, at least, equivalent to any other section of our Liturgical Year. We have abridged our explanations as much as possible; and yet we have exceeded two-thirds of one of our ordinary volumes. Hence, it was out of the question to add the remaining weeks; the more so, as the saints’ feasts recommence on the Monday following the Easter Octave, and their insertion would have obliged us to have made our volume considerably more bulky than even that of Passiontide. We have, therefore, been satisfied with giving the Mass and Office of the Annunciation, already given in our volume for Lent, but which are needed for the Monday after Low Sunday, when Easter falls between March 22 and April 2, which is frequently the case.

For more information on Paschal Tide, visit here.

This volume opens to us the second part of the Liturgical Year, beginning the long period of the Time after Pentecost. It treats of the feasts of the most holy Trinity, of Corpus Christi, and of the sacred Heart of Jesus. These three feasts require to be explained apart. Their dates depend on that of Easter; and yet they are detached, if we consider their object, from the moveable cycle, whose aim is to bring before us, each year, the successive, and so to speak historic, memories of our Lord’s mysteries. After the sublime drama, which has, by gradually presenting to us the facts of our Redeemer’s history, shown us the divine economy of the redemption, these feasts immediately follow, and give us a deep and dogmatic teaching: a teaching which is a marvellous synthesis, taking in the whole body of Christian doctrine.

The Holy Ghost has come down upon the earth, in order to sanctify it. Faith being the one basis of all sanctification, and the source of love, the holy Spirit would make it the starting-point of His divine workings in the soul. To this end, He inspires the Church, which has sprung up into life under the influence of His impetuous breathing, to propose at once to the faithful that doctrinal summary, which is comprised in the three feasts immediately coming after Pentecost. The volumes following the present one will show us the holy Spirit continuing His work, and, on the solid foundations of the faith He established at the outset, building the entire superstructure of the Christian virtues.

This was the idea which the author of the Liturgical year was busy developing in the second part of his work, when death came upon him; and the pen that had begun this volume was put by obedience into the hands of one, who now comes before the faithful, asking their prayers for the arduous task he has undertaken, of continuing the not quite finished work of his beloved father and master. He begs of them to beseech our Lord, that He Himself will vouchsafe to bring to a successful termination an undertaking that was begun for His honour and glory, and that has already produced so much fruit in the souls of men.

Br. L.F. O.S.B.

Solesmes, May 10, 1879.

 

For more information on Time after Pentecost, visit here.

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Yet four days, and our risen Jesus, whose company has been so dear and precious to us, will have disappeared from the earth. This fifth Sunday after Easter seems to prepare us for the separation. In a week’s time, we shall begin the long series of Sundays which are to pass before He returns to judge the world. This is a grief to the Christian; for he knows that he will not see his Saviour until after this life, and he feels something of the sorrow the apostles had at the last Supper, when Jesus said to them: ‘Yet a little while, and ye shall not see Me.’[1]

But, after His Resurrection, what must these privileged men have felt, when they perceived, as we do, that this beloved Master was soon to leave them! They had, so to speak, been living with Jesus glorified; they had experienced the effects of His divine condescension and intimacy; they had received from His lips every instruction they needed for the fulfilment of His will, that is, for founding on earth the Church He had chosen as His spouse. These happy forty days are fast drawing to a close. The apostles will then be deprived of Jesus’ visible presence, even to the end of their lives.

We, too, shall feel something of their sadness, if we have kept ourselves united to our holy mother the Church. From the very first day, when she recommenced, for our sakes, the ecclesiastical year, during which all the mysteries of our redemption, from the birth of our Emmanuel even to His triumphant Ascension into heaven, were to be celebrated,—have not we also been living in company with her Jesus, our Redeemer? And now that He is about to close the sweet intercourse which these seasons and feasts have kept up between Himself and us, are not our feelings very much like those of the apostles?

But there is one creature on earth, whom Jesus is leaving, and whose feelings at the approaching separation we cannot attempt to describe. Never had there been a heart so submissive to the will of her Creator; but, at the same time, there never was any creature so severely tried as she had been. Jesus would have His Mother’s love still increase; He therefore subjects her to the separation from Himself. Moreover, He wishes her to co-operate in the formation of the Church, for He has decreed that the great work shall not be achieved without her. In all this, Jesus shows how tenderly He loves His blessed Mother: He wishes her merit to be so great, that He may justly give her the brightest possible crown, when the day of her own ascension into heaven comes.

The heart of this incomparable Queen is not, indeed, to be again transfixed with a sword of sorrow: it is to be consumed by a love so intense that no language could describe it. Under the sweet, yet wearing, fire of this love, Mary is at length to give way, just as fruit falls from the tree, when its ripeness is complete, and the tree has nothing more to give it. But, during these last hours of Jesus’ presence, what must such a Mother have felt, who has had but forty days to enjoy the sight and the caresses of her glorified and divine Son? It is Mary’s last trial; and when her Jesus tells her of His wish that she should remain in exile, she is ready with her favourite answer: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Be it done to me according to Thy word!’ Her whole life has been spent in doing God’s will; it was this that made her so great in His eyes, and so dear to His Heart. A holy servant of God, who lived in the seventeenth century, and was favoured with the most sublime revelations, tells us that it was left to Mary’s choice, either to accompany her divine Son to heaven, or to remain some years longer upon the earth to assist the infant Church; and that she chose to defer her entrance into eternal bliss, in order to labour, as long as it was God’s good pleasure, in the great work which was so closely connected with the glory of her Son, and so essential to the salvation of us her adopted children.

If this generous devotedness raised the co-operatrix of our salvation to the highest degree of sanctity, by giving completeness to her mission on earth, we may be sure that Jesus’ love for His Mother was increased by the new proof she thus gave Him of her uniformity with every wish of His sacred Heart. He repaid her, as He well knew how to do, for this heroic self-sacrifice, this prompt submission to His designs which destined her to be, here on earth, as the Church calls her, 'Queen of the apostles,’ and a sharer in their labours.

During these His last few hours on earth, our Lord’s affection for His apostles and disciples seemed to be redoubled. For several of them, the separation was to be a long one. The beloved disciple, John, was not to enjoy the company of his divine Master till more than fifty years had elapsed. It was to be thirty before the cross would carry Peter to Him who had entrusted to his keeping the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Magdalene, the fervent Magdalene, would have to wait the same length of time. But no one murmured at the divine appointment: they all felt how just it was, that Jesus, now that He had so fully established the faith of His Resurrection, should enter into His glory.[2]

On the very day of His Resurrection, our Saviour bade the disciples go into Galilee, for that there He would meet them. As we have already seen, they obeyed the order, and seven among them were favoured by Jesus’ appearing to them on the banks of Lake Genesareth: it is the eighth of the manifestations mentioned in the Gospel. The ninth also took place in Galilee. Our Lord loved Galilee: it gave Him the greater number of His disciples, it was Mary and Joseph’s country, and it was there that He Himself passed so many years of His hidden life. Its people were simpler and better than those of Judea; and this was another attraction. St. Matthew tells us, that the most public of all Jesus’ manifestations, after His Resurrection,—the tenth in reality, and the ninth mentioned by the evangelists,—took place on a hill in this same district.[3]

According to St. Bonaventure, and the learned and pious Denis the Carthusian, this hill was Mount Thabor, the same that was honoured by the mystery of the transfiguration. Upwards of five hundred of Jesus’ disciples were assembled there, as we learn from St. Paul:[4] they were mostly inhabitants of Galilee, had believed in our Lord during His three years of public life, and merited to be witnesses of this new triumph of the Nazarene. Jesus showed Himself to them, and gave them such certitude with regard to His resurrection, that the apostle appeals to their testimony in support of this fundamental mystery of our faith.

Further than this, we know of no other manifestations made by our Saviour after His resurrection. We know that He gave order to His disciples to repair to Jerusalem, where they were to see Him once more before His Ascension. Let us, during these few days, follow the disciples to Jerusalem. Faithless city! how often has Jesus sought to gather together her children, as the hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and she would not![5] He is about to re-enter her walls; but she is not to know it. He will not shew Himself to her, but only to those that love Him; and after this He will depart in silence, never to return until He comes to judge them that have not known the time of their visitation.

In the Greek Church, the fifth Sunday after Easter is called the Sunday of the man born blind, because her Gospel for the day contains the history of that miracle of our divine Lord. She also calls it Episozomene, which is one of the names given by the Greeks to the mystery of the Ascension, the feast of which is kept with them, as with us, during the course of this week.

 

MASS

 

The Introit is taken from Isaias, the sublimest of the prophets. It sweetly invites all the earth to celebrate the victory won by Jesus,—a victory which has purchased our deliverance.

Introit

Vocem jucunditatis annuntiate, et audiatur, alleluia: annuntiate usque ad extremum terræ: liberavit Dominus populum suum. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Jubilate Deo omnis terra: psalmum dicite nomini ejus, date gloriam laudi ejus.
℣. Gloria Patri. Vocem jucunditatis.
With the voice of joy make this to be heard, alleluia: publish to the utmost bounds of the earth, that the Lord hath redeemed his people. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Shout with joy to God, all the earth: sing a psalm to his name, give glory to his praise.
℣. Glory, &c. With the voice, &c.

In the Collect, holy Church teaches us that our thoughts and actions, to be made deserving of eternal life, stand in need of grace; the former that we may have the inspiration, the latter that we may have the will to do them.

Collect

Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt, largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt, et, te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum.
O God, from whom all that is good proceeds: grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice. Through, &c.

Of the Blessed Virgin

Concede nos famulostuos, quæsumus Domine Deus, perpetua mentis et corporis sanitate gaudere: et gloriosa beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis intercessione, a præsenti liberari tristitia, et æterna perfrui lætitia.
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we thy servants may enjoy constant health of body and mind; and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, be delivered from all present sorrows, and come to that joy which is eternal.

Against the Persecutors of the Church

Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, preces placatus admitte, ut, destructis adversitatibus et erroribus universis, secura tibi serviat libertate. Per Dominum.
Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church: that, all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure liberty. Through, &c.

For the Pope

Deus omnium fidelium Pastor et rector, famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quæsumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus præest proficere; ut ad vitam una cum grege sibi credito perveniat sempiternam. Per Dominum.
O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in thy mercy, on thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church; and grant we beseech thee, that both by word and example, he may edify all those that are under his charge; and, with the flock entrusted to him, arrive at length at eternal happiness. Through, &c.

Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Jacobi Apostoli.

Cap. i.

Charissimi, estote factores verbi, et non auditores tantum, fallentes vosmetipsos. Quia si quis auditor est verbi, et non factor, hic comparabitur viro consideranti vultum nativitatis suæ in speculo: consideravit enim se, et abiit, et statim oblitus est qualis fuerit. Qui autem perspexerit in legem perfectam libertatis, et permanserit in ea, non auditor obliviosus factus, sed factor operis: hic beatus in facto suo erit. Si quis autem putat se religiosum esse, non refrænans linguam suam, sed seducens cor su um, hujus vana est religio. Religio munda, et immaculata apud Deum et Patrem, hæc est: Visitare pupillos et viduas in tribulatione eorum, et immaculatum se custodire ab hoc sæculo.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle.

Ch. i.

Dearly beloved: Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer; he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. For he beheld himself and went his way, and presently forgot what manner of man he was. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty, and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work: this man shall be blessed in his deed. And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue, but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father, is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation: and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world.

The holy apostle, whose instructions these are, had received them from our risen Jesus: hence the authoritative tone wherewith he speaks. Our Saviour, as we have already seen, honoured him with a special visit. This proves that he was particularly dear to his divine master, to whom he was related by the tie of consanguinity on his mother’s side, whose name was Mary. This holy woman went on Easter morning to the sepulchre, in company with her sister Salome, and Magdalene. St. James the Less is indeed the apostle of Paschal Time, wherein everything speaks to us of the new life we should lead with our risen Lord. He is the apostle of good works, for it is from him that we have received this fundamental maxim of Christianity, that though faith he the first essential of a Christian, yet without works it is a dead faith, and will not save us.

He also lays great stress on our being attentive to the truths we have been taught, and on our guarding against that culpable forgetfulness, which plays such havoc with thoughtless souls. Many of those who have this year received the grace of the Easter mystery, will not persevere; and the reason is, that they will allow the world to take up all their time and thoughts, whereas they should use the world as though they did not use it.[6] Let us never forget, that we must now walk in newness of life, in imitation of our risen Jesus, who dieth now no more.

The two Alleluia-versicles celebrate the glory of the Resurrection; but they also contain an allusion to the approaching Ascension. Jesus was bom eternally from the Father; He came down to us; but now, in a few days, He is to return to his Father.

Alleluia alleluia. ℣. Surrexit Christus, et illuxit nobis, quos redemit sanguine suo. Alleluia.
℣. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum; iterum relinquo mundum et vado ad Patrem, alleluia.
Alleluia alleluia. ℣. Christ is risen, and hath shone upon us, whom he redeemed with his blood. Alleluia.
℣. I came forth from the Father, and I came into the world: I leave the world again, and go to the Father, alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.

Cap. xvi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Amen, amen dico vobis: si quid petieritis Patrem in nomine meo, dabit vobis. Usque modo non petistis quidquam in nomine meo: petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum. Hæc in proverbiislocutus sum vobis. Venit hora cum jam non in proverbiie loquar vobis, sed palam de Patre annuntiabo vobis. In illo die in nomine meo petetis: et non dico vobis quia ego rogabo Patrem de vobis: ipse enim Pater amat vos, quia vos me amastis, et credidistis quia ego a Deo exivi. Exivi a Patre, et veni in mundum: iterum relinquo mundum, et vado ad Patrem. Dicunt ei discipuli ejus: Ecce nunc palam loqueris, et proverbium nullum dicis: nunc scimus quia scis omnia, et non opus est tibi ut quis te interroget: in hoc credimus quia a Deo existi.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John.

Ch. xvi.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: Amen, amen, I say to you; if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name. Ask and you shall receive; that your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in proverbs. The hour cometh when I will no more speak to you in proverbs, but will show you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in my name: and I say not to you, that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loveth you, because you have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world and I go to the Father. His disciples say to him: Behold now thou speakest plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now we know that thou knowest all things, and thou needest not that any man should ask thee. By this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

When, at His last Supper, our Saviour thus warned His apostles of His having soon to leave them, they were far from knowing Him thoroughly. True, they knew that He came forth from God; but their faith was weak, and they soon lost it. Now that they are enjoying His company after His Resurrection, now that they have received such light from His instructions, they know Him better. He no longer speaks to them in proverbs; He teaches them everything they require to know in order to become the teachers of the whole world. It is now they might truly say to Him: We believe that thou camest forth from God! So much the more, then, do they understand what they are going to lose by His leaving them.

Our Lord begins now to reap the fruit of the word He has sown in their hearts: oh! how patiently has He waited for it! If He praised them for their faith, when they were with Him on the night of the last Supper, He may surely do so now that they have seen Him in the splendour of His Resurrection, and have been receiving such teaching from His lips. He said to them, at the last Supper: The Father loveth you, because ye have loved Me; how much more must the Father love them now, when their love for Jesus is so much increased! Let us be consoled by these words. Before Easter our love of Jesus was weak, and we were tepid in His service; but now that we have been enlightened and nourished by His mysteries, we may well hope that the Father loves us, for we love Jesus better than we did before. This dear Redeemer urges us to ask the Father, in His name, for everything we need. Our first want is perseverance in the spirit of Eastertide; let it be our most earnest prayer; let it be our intention now that we are assisting at the holy sacrifice, which is soon to bring Jesus upon our altar.

The Offertory is taken from the Psalms; it is an act of thanksgiving which the Christian, united with his risen Jesus, offers to God for having brought him to the new life, and made him the object of His choicest graces.

Offertory

Benedicite, gentes, Dominum Deum nostrum, et obaudite vocem laudis ejus: qui posuit animam meam ad vitam, et non dedit commoveri pedes meos. Benedictus Dominus, qui non amovit deprecationem meam, et misericordiam suam a me, alleluia.
Bless the Lord our God, ye Gentiles, and make the voice of his praise be heard, who hath set my soul to live, and hath not suffered my feet to be moved. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me, alleluia.

In the Secret, the Church prays that this our earthly Pasch may introduce us to the feast of heavenly glory. The end of all the mysteries achieved by God in this world is, that we may be sanctified by them, and fitted for the eternal vision and possession of our Creator: it is this that the Church, adopting the style of the sacred Scriptures, calls glory.

Secret

Suscipe, Domine, fidelium preces cum oblationibus hostiarum: ut per hæc piæ devotionis officia, ad cœlestem gloriam transeamus. Per Dominum.
Receive, O Lord, we beseech thee, the prayers of the faithful, together with these oblations; that by these devout celebrations we may be admitted into heavenly glory. Through, &c.

Of the Blessed Virgin

Tua, Domine, propitiatione, et beatæ Mariæ semper Virginia intercessione, ad perpetuam atque præsentem hæc oblatio nobis proficiat prosperitatem et pacem.
By thine own mercy, O Lord, and the intercession of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, may this oblation procure us peace and happiness, both in this life, and in that which is to come.

Against the Persecutors of the Church.

Protege nos, Domine, tuis mysteriis servientes: ut divinis rebus inhærentes, et corpore tibi famulemur et mente. Per Dominum.
Protect us, O Lord, while we assist at thy sacred mysteries: that being employed in acts of religion, we may serve thee, both in body and mind. Through. &c.

For the Pope

Oblatis, quæsumus Domine, placare muneribus: et famulum tuum N. quem pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, assidua protectione guberna. Per Dominum.
Be appeased, O Lord, with the offering we have made: and cease not to protect thy servant N., whom thou hast been pleased to appoint Pastor over thy Church. Through, &c.

The Communion-anthem, composed of the words of the royal prophet, is a canticle of gladness, expressive of the ceaseless joy of our Easter.

Communion

Cantate Domino, alleluia: cantate Domino, et benedicite nomen ejus: bene nuntiate de die in diem salutare ejus. Alleluia, alleluia.
Sing to the Lord, alleluia: sing to the Lord, and bless his name: publish aloud, from day to day, that he hath saved us. Alleluia, alleluia.

Holy Church teaches us, in her Postcommunion, how we should pray to God. We must desire the right thing; let us pray to have this desire, and then continue our prayer till the right thing is granted. Grace will then be given us: it will be our own fault if it be unproductive.

Postcommunion

Tribue nobis, Domine, cœlestis mensæ virtute satiatis, et desiderare quærecta sunt, et desiderata percipere. Per Dominum.
Grant, O Lord, by the power of the heavenly nourishment we have received, that we desire what is right, and obtain our desire. Through, &c.

Of the Blessed Virgin

Sumptis, Domine, salutis nostræ subsidiis: da, quæsumus, beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis patrociniis nos ubique protegi, in cujus veneratione hæc tuæ obtulimus majestati.
Having received, O Lord, what is to advance our salvation; grant we may always be protected by the patronage of blessed Mary, ever a Virgin, in whose honour we have offered this sacrifice to thy Majesty.

Against the Persecutors of the Church

Quæsumus, Domine Deus noster, ut quos divina tribuis participatione gaudere, humanis non sinas subjacere periculis. Per Dominum.
We beseech thee, O Lord our God, not to leave exposed to the dangers of human life, those whom thou hast permitted to partake of these divine mysteries. Through, &c.

For the Pope

Hæc nos, quæsumus, Domine, divini sacramenti perceptio protegat: et famulum tuum N. quem Pastorem Ecclesiæ tuæ præesse voluisti, una cum commisso sibi grege, salvet semper et muniat. Per Dominum.
May the participation of this divine Sacrament protect us, we beseech thee, O Lord; and always procure safety and defence to thy servant N., whom thou hast appointed Pastor over thy Church, together with the flock committed to his charge. Through, &c.

 

VESPERS

 

Antiphon of the Magnificat

Ant. Petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum: ipse enim Pater amat vos, quia vos me amastis, et credidistis, alleluia.

Oremus.

Deus, a quo bona cuncta procedunt; largire supplicibus tuis: ut cogitemus, te inspirante, quæ recta sunt, et te gubernante, eadem faciamus. Per Dominum.
Ant. Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full: for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed, alleluia.

Let us Pray.

O God, from whom all that is good proceeds: grant that thy people, by thy inspiration, may resolve on what is right, and by thy direction, put it in practice. Through. &c.

We will close our Sunday with the admonition wherewith the Gothic Church of Spain warned the faithful during Paschal Time. It is a season of joy; and yet we need to be cautious, for our enemy is sure to lay snares for us in the new life we have received.

Missa
(Feria V. post Pascha.)

Habeant, dilectissimi fratres, vota cautelam, festa diligentiam, gaudia disciplinam. Exsultare decet quod resurrexerimus: sed timere convenit ne cadamus. Inter novam vitam veteremque mortem oportet scire quid evasimus, oportet eligere quid amemus. Non enim error, sed contemptus est peccare commonitum. Major post veniam pœna sequitur contumaces: gravius est captivos fieri jam redemptos. Habet ista pietas potestatem, habet potestas ista terrorem, habet terror iste vindictam. Non enim fuisset pius in homine, nisi prius iratus fuisset in dæmone. Confortamur gratia doni, si non corrumpamur lege pec- cati. Ratio parcendi est prævisio corrigendi. Non mutamur indulgentia, si non renovetur offensa. Qui nobis quod peccavimus indulsit, et ne ultra peccaremus admo- nuit. Profuit dementia, si profecit disciplina. Jam qui- dem hominem gratia adopta- vit, sed necdum dæmonem gehenna suscepit. Violentia peccatum perdidit, non naturam. Dimicandi est facultas, non securitas otiandi. Spo- liatus eat adversarius, non extinctus. Gravius necesse est ut frendeat in amissis, quibus præerat dominando subjectis. Accepimus castra per fidem, arma per crucem, signa per carnem, vexilla per sanguinem: restat causa cer- taminis. Qui enim afferre necesaitatem voluit pugnæ, spem voluit probare victoriæ. Præcessit quidem in adoptione donum, sed adhuc restat in conversatione judicium. Hic promissio eat de munere, illic vicissitudo futura est post laborem. Sit itaque ille ante oculos nostros Domini miserantis affec- tua, quod in taxatione nostra non argenti pondus, non auri talentum dedit, non gratiarum fudit ornatum, sed convitio subdidit se pati- buli, sepulchro sustinens carneam injuriam, sepultu- ram. Nihil majus potuit dare, nihil melius. Ut uti- que sit probandum quod diligentius nos sibi servire voluit, qui pretiosius nos redemit. Ergo ut in nobis redemptionis suae beneficia dignetur perficere, constan- ter nos convenit ac perseve- ranter orare.
Dearly beloved brethren: let there be caution in your devotion, watchfulness in your festivity, modesty in your gladness. We should rejoice in that we have risen: but we should fear lest we may fall. We have been rescued from the death of old, and it behoves us to know how evil it was; we have been gifted with the new life, and we must cling to it as worthy of our love. To commit the sin we have been admonished to shun is not an error but contempt. They that have been pardoned and relapsed, deserve the greater punishment; nor is there excuse for them that have been once ransomed if they again become slaves. The mercy of God implies power; and power, fear; and fear, chastisement. He would not have been merciful to man, unless he had first been angry with the devil. He strengthens us with his gratuitous gifts, that we may not be corrupted by our evil inclinations. No one spares another but with a hope of correction. Forgiveness can do no harm, when the offence is not repeated. He that pardoned us our sins, thereby admonished us to sin no more. Mercy has not been lost on us, if our conduct is what it should be. Grace has, indeed, made man the adopted child of God; but the devil is not yet shut up in hell. Sin, not nature, has been defeated. What we have gained is the power of fighting, not the privilege of inaction. Our enemy has been despoiled, not slain. His anger must be greatest against those who were once subject to his tyranny, but now are disenthralled. Faith has given us bulwarks; the cross, armour; the flesh (assumed by Christ) a standard: and his Blood, a banner: the battle then is to be fought. The God who willed us to have the battle, willed us to have the hope of victory. We have already received the gift of adoption; our conduct is to decide what sentence is to be passed upon us in judgment. In this world we have the promise of reward; in the next, our lot will be decided according to our works. Let us, therefore, be mindful of the tender mercy of our Lord, who, as the price of our ransom, gave not sums of silver or gold, nor granted princely favours, but subjected himself to the infamy of the cross, and suffered his Body to be humbled even to being buried in a tomb. He could give nothing greater or better. So that the more it cost him to redeem us, the more diligently should we serve him; and it is this he demands of us. Therefore, in order that the work of his Redemption be perfected in us, it behoves us to pray with constancy and perseverance.

[1] St. John, xvi. 16.
[2] St. Luke, xxiv. 26.
[3] St. Matth. xxviii. 16.
[4] 1 Cor. xv. 6.
[5] St. Matth. xxiii. 37.
[6] I Cor. vii. 31.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

It seems strange that there should be anything like mourning during Paschal Time: and yet these three days are days of penance. A moment’s reflection, however, will show us that the institution of the Rogation days is a most appropriate one. True, our Saviour told us, before His Passion, that ‘the children of the Bridegroom should not fast whilst the Bridegroom is with them’:[1] but is not sadness in keeping with these the last hours of Jesus’ presence on earth? Were not His Mother and disciples oppressed with grief at the thought of their having so soon to lose Him, whose company had been to them a foretaste of heaven?

Let us see how the liturgical year came to have inserted in its calendar these three days, during which holy Church, though radiant with the joy of Easter, seems to go back to her lenten observances. The Holy Ghost, who guides hex in all things, willed that this completion of her paschal liturgy should owe its origin to a devotion peculiar to one of the most illustrious and venerable Churches of southern Gaul, the Church of Vienne.

The second half of the fifth century had but just commenced, when the country round Vienne, which had been recently conquered by the Burgundians, was visited with calamities of every kind. The people were struck with fear at these indications of God’s anger. St. Mamertus, who, at the time, was bishop of Vienne, prescribed three days' public expiation, during which the faithful were to devote themselves to penance, and walk in procession chanting appropriate psalms. The three days preceding the Ascension were the ones chosen. Unknown to himself, the holy bishop was thus instituting a practice, which was afterwards to form part of the liturgy of the universal Church.

The Churches of Gaul, as might naturally be expected, were the first to adopt the devotion. St. Alcimus Avitus, who was one of the earliest successors of St. Mamertus in the See of Vienne, informs us that the custom of keeping the Rogation days was, at that time, firmly established in his diocese.[2] St. Cæsarius of Arles, who lived in the early part of the sixth century, speaks of them as being observed in countries afar off; by which he meant, at the very least, to designate all that portion of Gaul which was under the Visigoths.[3] That the whole of Gaul soon adopted the custom, is evident from the canons drawn up at the first Council of Orleans, held in 511, which represented all the provinces that were in allegiance to Clovis. The regulations, made by the council regarding the Rogations, give us a great idea of the importance attached to their observance. Not only abstinence from flesh-meat, but even fasting, is made of obligation. Masters are also required to dispense their servants from work, in order that they may assist at the long functions which fill up almost the whole of these three days.[4] In 567, the Council of Tours, likewise, imposed the precept of fasting during the Rogation days;[5] and as to the obligation of resting from servile work, we find it recognized in the Capitularia of Charlemagne and Charles the Bald.

The main part of the Rogation rite originally consisted, (at least in Gaul,) in singing canticles of supplication while passing from place to place; and hence the word Procession. We learn from St. Cæsarius of Arles, that each day’s procession lasted six hours; and that when the clergy became tired, the women took up the chanting.[6] The faithful of those days had not made the discovery, which was reserved for modem times, that one requisite for religious processions is that they be as short as possible.

The procession for the Rogation days was preceded by the faithful receiving the ashes upon their heads, as now at the beginning of Lent; they were then sprinkled with holy water, and the procession began. It was made up of the clergy and people of several of the smaller parishes, who were headed by the cross of the principal church, which conducted the whole ceremony. All walked bare-foot, singing the litany, psalms, and antiphons, until they reached the church appointed for the station, where the holy sacrifice was offered. They entered the churches that lay on their route, and sang an antiphon or responsory appropriate to each.

Such was the original ceremony of the Rogation days, and it was thus observed for a very long period. The monk of St. Gall’s who has left us so many interesting details regarding the life of Charlemagne, tells us that this holy emperor used to join the processions of these three days, and walk bare-footed from his palace to the stational church.[7] We find St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in the thirteenth century, setting the like example: during the Rogation days, she used to mingle with the poorest women of the place, and walk bare-footed, wearing a dress of coarse stuff.[8] St. Charles Borromeo, who restored in his diocese of Milan so many ancient practices of piety, was sure not to be indifferent about the Rogation days. He spared neither word nor example to reanimate this salutary devotion among his people. He ordered fasting to be observed during these three days; he fasted himself on bread and water. The procession, in which all the clergy of the city were obliged to join, and which began after the sprinkling of ashes, started from the cathedral at an early hour in the morning, and was not over till three or four o’clock in the afternoon. Thirteen churches were visited on the Monday; nine, on the Tuesday; and eleven, on the Wednesday. The saintly archbishop celebrated Mass and preached in one of these churches.[9]

If we compare the indifference shown by the Catholics of the present age for the Rogation days, with the devotion wherewith our ancestors kept them, we cannot but acknowledge that there is a great falling off in faith and piety. Knowing, as we do, the importance attached to these processions by the Church, we cannot help wondering how it is that there are so few among the faithful who assist at them. Our surprise increases when we find persons preferring their own private devotions to these public prayers of the Church, which, to say nothing of the result of good example, merit far greater graces than any exercises of our own fancying.

The whole western Church soon adopted the Rogation days. They were introduced into England at an early period; as likewise into Spain and Germany. Rome herself sanctioned them by herself observing them; this she did in the eighth century, during the pontificate of St. Leo III. She gave them the name of the Lesser Litanies, in contradistinction to the procession of April 25, which she calls the Greater Litanies. With regard to the fast which the Churches of Gaul observed during the Rogation days, Rome did not adopt that part of the institution. Fasting seemed to her to throw a gloom over the joyous forty days, which our risen Jesus grants to His disciples; she therefore enjoined only abstinence from flesh-meat during the Rogation days. The Church of Milan, which, as we have just seen, so strictly observes the Rogations, keeps them on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after the Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension, that is to say, after the forty days devoted to the celebration of the Resurrection.

If, then, we would have a correct idea of the Rogation days, we must consider them as Rome does,—that is, as a holy institution which, without interrupting our paschal joy, tempers it. The purple vestments used during the procession and Mass do not signify that our Jesus has fled from us,[10] but that the time for His departure is approaching. By prescribing abstinence for these three days, the Church would express how much she will feel the loss of her Spouse, who is so soon to be taken from her.

In England, as in many other countries, abstinence is no longer of obligation for the Rogation days. This should be an additional motive to induce the faithful to assist at the processions and litanies, and, by fervently uniting in the prayers of the Church, to make some compensation for the abolition of the law of abstinence. We need so much penance, and we do so little! If we are truly in earnest, we shall be most fervent in doing the little that is left us to do.

The object of the Rogation days is to appease the anger of God, and avert the chastisements which the sins of the world so justly deserve; moreover, to draw down the divine blessing on the fruits of the earth. The litany of the saints is sung during the procession, which is followed by a special Mass said in the stational church, or if there be no Station appointed, in the church whence the procession first started.

The litany of the saints is one of the most efficacious of prayers. The Church makes use of it on all solemn occasions, as a means of rendering God propitious through the intercession of the whole court of heaven. They who are prevented from assisting at the procession, should recite the litany in union with holy Church: they will thus share in the graces attached to the Rogation days; they will be joining in the supplications now being made throughout the entire world; they will be proving themselves to be Catholics.

We give the Mass of the Rogations, which is the same for all three days. It speaks to us, throughout, of the power and necessity of prayer. The Church uses the lenten colour, to express the expiatory character of the function she is celebrating: but she is evidently full of confidence; she trusts to the love of her risen Jesus, and that gives her hope of her prayers being granted.

For the convenience of the faithful we also insert the litany.

Litany of the Saints

Ant. Exsurge, Domine, adjuva nos: et libera nos, propter nomen tuum.
Ps.
Deus, auribus nostris audivimus: patres nostri annuntiaverunt nobis.
℣. Gloria Patri. Exsurge.

Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Pater de cœlis, Deus, miserere nobis.
Fili, Redemptor mundi, Deus, miserere nobis.
Spiritus Sancte, Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Trinitas, unus Deus, miserere nobis.
Sancta Maria, Ora pro nobis.
Sancta Dei Genitrix, ora.
Sancta Virgo virginum, ora.
Sancte Michael, ora.
Sancte Gabriel, ora.
Sancte Raphael, ora.
Omnes sancti angeli et archangeli, orate.
Omnes sancti beatorum spirituum ordines, orate.
Sancte Joannes Baptista, ora.
Sancte Joseph, ora.
Omnes sancti patriarchæ et prophetæ, orate.
Sancte Petre, ora.
Sancte Paule, ora.
Sancte Andrea, ora.
Sancte Jacobe, ora.
Sancte Joannes, ora.
Sancte Thoma, ora.
Sancte Jacobe, ora.
Sancte Philippe, ora.
Sancte Bartholomæe, ora.
Sancte Matthæe, ora.
Sancte Simon, ora.
Sancte Thaddæe, ora.
Sancte Mathia, ora.
Sancte Barnaba, ora.
Sancte Luca, ora.
Sancte Maree, ora.
Omnes sancti apostoli et evangelistæ, orate.
Omnes sancti discipuli Domini, orate.
Omnes sancti Innocentes, orate.
Sancte Stephane, ora.
Sancte Laurenti, ora.
Sancte Vincenti, ora.
Sancti Fabiane et Sebastiane. orate.
Sancti Joannes et Paule, orate.
Sancti Cosma et Damiane, orate.
Sancti Gervasi et Protasi, orate.
Omnes sancti martyres, orate.
Sancte Sylvester, ora.
Sancte Gregori, ora.
Sancte Ambrosi, ora.
Sancte Augustine, ora.
Sancte Hieronyme, ora.
Sancte Martine, ora.
Sancte Nicolæ, ora.
Omnes sancti pontifices et confessores, orate.
Omnes sancti doctores, orate.
Sancte Antoni, ora.
Sancte Benedicte, ora.
Sancte Bernardo, ora.
Sancte Dominice, ora.
Sancte Francisce, ora.
Omnes sancti sacerdotes et levitæ, orate.
Omnes sancti monachi et eremitæ, orate,
Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora.
Sancta Agatha, ora.
Sancta Lucia, ora.
Sancta Agnes, ora.
Sancta Cæcilia, ora.
Sancta Catharina, ora.
Sancta Anastasia, ora.
Omnes sanctae virgines et viduae, orate.
Omnes sancti et sanctae Dei, Intercedite pro nobis.
Propitius esto, parce nobis, Domine.
Propitius esto, exaudi nos, Domine.
Ab omni malo, libera nos, Domine.
Ab omni peccato, libera nos, Domine.
Ab ira tua, libera.
A subitanea et improvisa morte, libera.
Ab insidiis diaboli, libera.
Ab ira, et odio, et omni mala voluntate, libera.
A spiritu fornicationis, libera.
A fulgure et tempestate, libera.
A flagello terræmotus, libera.
A peste, fame, et bello, libera.
A morte perpetua, libera.
Per mysterium sanctae Incarnationis tuæ, libera.
Per adventum tuum, libera.
Per nativitatem tuam, libera.
Per baptismum et sanctum jejunium tuum, libera.
Per crucem et passionem tuam, libera.
Per mortem et sepulturam tuam, libera.
Per sanctam Resurrectionem tuam, libera.
Per admirabilem Ascensionem tuam, libera.
Per adventum Spiritus sancti Paracliti, libera.
In die judicii, libera.
Peccatores, te rogamue, audi nos.
Ut nobis parcas, te rogamue, audi nos.
Ut nobis indulgeas, te rogamus.
Ut ad veram pœnitentiam nos perducere digneris, te rogamus.
Ut Ecclesiam tuam sanctam regere et conservare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut Domnum apostolicum, et omnes ecclesiasticos ordines, in sancta religione conservare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut inimicos sanctæ Ecclesiæ humillare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut regibue et principibus Christianis pacem et veram concordiam donare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut cuncto populo Christiano pacem et unitatem largiri digneris, te rogamus.
Ut nosmetipsos in tuo sancto servitio confortare et conservare digneris, te rogamus,
Ut mentes nostras ad cœlestia desideria erigas, te rogamus.
Ut omnibus benefactoribus nostris sempiterna bona retribuas, te rogamus.
Ut animas nostras, fratrum, propinquorum, et benefactorum nostrorum ab æterna damnatione eripias, te rogamus.
Ut fructus terræ dare et conservare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut omnibus fidelibus defunctis requiem æternam donare digneris, te rogamus.
Ut nos exaudire digneris, te rogamus.
Fili Dei, te rogamus.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, parce nobis, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, exaudi nos, Domine.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Christe, audi nos.
Christe, exaudi nos.
Kyrie, eleison.
Christe, eleison.
Kyrie, eleison.
Pater noster. (Secreto.)
℣. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
℟. Sed libera nos a malo.
Ant. Arise, O Lord, help us, and deliver us, for thy name.
Ps. We have heard, O God, with our ears: our fathers have told it unto us.
℣. Glory, &c. Arise, &c.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us.
Saint Michael, pray for us
Saint Gabriel,
Saint Raphael,
All ye holy angels and archangels,
All ye holy orders of blessed spirits,
Saint John Baptist,
Saint Joseph,
All ye holy patriarchs and prophets,
Saint Peter,
Saint Paul,
Saint Andrew,
Saint James,
Saint John,
Saint Thomas,
Saint James,
Saint Philip,
Saint Bartholomew,
Saint Matthew,
Saint Simon,
Saint Thaddeus,
Saint Mathias,
Saint Barnaby,
Saint Luke,
Saint Mark,
All ye holy apostles and evangelists,
All ye holy disciples of our Lord,
All ye holy Innocents,
Saint Stephen,
Saint Laurence,
Saint Vincent,
Saints Fabian and Sebastian,
Saints John and Paul,
Saints Cosmas and Damian,
Saints Gervasius and Protasius,
All ye holy martyrs,
Saint Sylvester,
Saint Gregory,
Saint Ambrose,
Saint Augustine,
Saint Jerome,
Saint Martin,
Saint Nicholas,
All ye holy bishops and confessors,
All ye holy doctors,
Saint Antony,
Saint Benedict,
Saint Bernard,
Saint Dominic,
Saint Francis,
All ye holy priests and levites,
All ye holy monks and hermits.
Saint Mary Magdalene,
Saint Agatha,
Saint Lucy,
Saint Agnes,
Saint Cecily,
Saint Catharine,
Saint Anastasia,
All ye holy virgins and widows,
All ye men and women, saints of God, make intercession for us.
Be merciful to us, spare us O Lord,
Be merciful to us, graciously hear us, O Lord.
From all evil, deliver us, O Lord.
From all sin, deliver us, O Lord.
From thy wrath,
From sudden and unprovided death,
From the snares of the devil,
From anger, hatred, and all ill-will,
From the spirit of fornication,
From lightning and tempest,
From the scourge of earthquakes,
From plague, famine, and war,
From everlasting death,
Through the mystery of thy holy Incarnation,
Through thy coming,
Through thy nativity,
Through thy baptism and holy fasting,
Through thy cross and Passion,
Through thy death and burial,
Through thy holy Resurrection,
Through thy admirable Ascension,
Through the coming of the Holy Ghost the Comforter,
In the day of Judgment,
We sinners, beseech thee, hear us.
That thou spare us, we beseech thee, hear us.
That thou pardon us,
That thou vouchsafe to bring us to true penance,
That thou vouchsafe to govern and preserve thy holy Church,
That thou vouchsafe to preserve our apostolic Prelate, and all ecclesiastical orders, in holy religion,
That thou vouchsafe to humble the enemies of thy holy Church,
That thou vouchsafe to give peace and true concord to Christian kings and princes,
That thou vouchsafe to grant peace and unity to all Christian people,
That thou vouchsafe to strengthen and preserve us in thy holy service,

That thou lift up our minds to heavenly desires,
That thou render eternal good things to all our benefactors,
That thou deliver our souls, and those of our brethren, kinsfolk, and benefactors, from eternal damnation,
That thou vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth,
That thou vouchsafe to give eternal rest to all the faithful departed,
That thou vouchsafe graciously to hear us,
Son of God, we beseech thee, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Our Father. (In secret.)
℣. And lead us not into temptation.
℟. But deliver us from evil.

Psalm 69

Deus, in adjutorium meum intende: Domine, ad adjuvandum me festina.
Confundantur et revereantur: qui quærunt animam meam.
Avertantur retrorsum et erubescant: qui volunt mihi mala.
Avertantur statim erubescentes: qui dicunt mihi, Euge, euge.
Exsultent et lætentur in te omnes qui quærunt te: et dicant semper, Magnificetur Dominus, qui diligunt salutare tuum.
Ego vero egenus et pauper sum: Deus adjuva me.
Adjutor meus et liberator meus es tu: Domine, ne moreris.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper: et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.

℣. Salvos fac servos tuos.
℟. Deus meus sperantes in te.
℣. Esto nobis, Domine, turris fortitudinis.
℟. A facie inimici.
℣. Nihil proficiat inimicus in nobis.
℟. Et filius iniquitatis non apponat nocere nobis.
℣. Domine, non secundum peccata nostra facias nobis.
℟. Neque secundum iniquitates nostras retribuas nobis.
℣. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro N.
℟. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum ejus.
℣. Oremus pro benefactoribus nostris.
℟. Retribuere dignare, Domine, omnibus nobis bona facientibus, propter nomen tuum, vitam æternam. Amen.
℣. Oremus pro fidelibus defunctis.
℟. Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis.
℣. Requiescant in pace.
℟. Amen.
℣. Pro fratribus nostris absentibus.
℟. Salvos fac servos tuos, Deus meus, sperantes in te.
℣. Mitte eis, Domine, auxilium de sancto.
℟. Et de Sion tuere eos.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et elamor meus ad te veniat.
℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Oremus.

Deus, cui proprium est miseren semper et parcere: suscipe deprecationem nostram: ut nos, et omnes famulos tuos, quos delictorum catena constringit, miseratio tuæ pietatis elementer absolvat.

Exaudi, quæsumus, Domine, supplicum preces, et confitentium tibi parce peccatis: ut pariter nobis indulgentiam tribuas benignus et pacem.

Ineffabilem nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam elementer ostende: ut simul nos et a peccatis omnibus exuas, et a pænis, quas pro his meremur, eripias.

Deus, qui culpa offenderis, pœnitentia placaris: preces populi tui supplicantis propitius respice; et flagella tuæ iraeundiæ, quæ pro peccatis nostris meremur, averte.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, miserere famulo tuo Pontifici nostro N., et dirige eum, secundum tuam clementiam, in viam salutis æternæ; ut, te donante, tibi placita cupiat, et tota virtute perficiat.

Deus, a quo sancta desideria, recta consilia, et justa sunt opera: da servis tuis
illam, quam mundus dare non potest, pacem; ut et corda nostra mandatis tuis dedita, et hostium sublata formidine, tempora sint, tua protectione, tranquilla.

Ure igne sancti Spiritus renes nostros et cor nostrum Domine: ut tibi casto corpore serviamus, et mundo corde placeamus.

Fidelium, Deus, omnium Conditor et Redemptor, animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum remissionem cunctorum tribue peccatorum: ut indulgentiam, quam semper optaverunt, piis supplicationibus consequantur.

Actiones nostras, quæsumus, Domine, aspirando præveni, et adjuvando prosequere; ut cuncta nostra oratio et operatio a te semper incipiat, et per te cœpta finiatur.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vivorum dominaris simul et mortuorum, omniumque misereris, quos tuos fide et opere futuros esse prænoscis; te supplices exoramus; ut pro quibus effundere preces decrevimus, quosque vel præsens sæculum adhuc in carne retinet, vel futurum jam exutos corpore suscepit, intercedentibus omnibus sanctis tuis, pietatis tuæ clementia, omni um delictorum suorum veniam consequantur. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, &c.
℟. Amen.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

℣. Exaudiat nos omnipo tens et misericors Dominus.
℟. Amen.

℣. Et fidelium animæ, per misericordiam Dei, requiescant in pace.
℟. Amen.
O God come to my assistance: O Lord make haste to help me.
Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek my soul.
Let them be turned backward, and blush for shame, that desire evils to me.
Let them be presently turned away blushing for shame, that say to me: ’Tis well, ’tis well.
Let all that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation, say always, The Lord be magnified.
But I am needy and poor: O God help me.
Thou art my helper and my deliverer: O Lord, make no delay.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
℣. Save thy servants.
℟. Trusting in thee, O my God.
℣. Be unto us, O Lord, a tower of strength.
℟. From the face of the enemy.
℣. Let not the enemy prevail against us.
℟. Nor the son of iniquity have any power to hurt us.
℣. O Lord, deal not with us according to our sins.
℟. Nor reward us according to our iniquities.
℣. Let us pray for our chief Bishop N.
℟. May our Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon earth, and deliver him not to the will of his enemies.
℣. Let us pray for our benefactors.
℟. Vouchsafe, O Lord, for thy name’s sake, to reward, with eternal life, all them that have done us good. Amen.
℣. Let us pray for the faithful departed.
℟. Eternal rest give to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
℣. May they rest in peace.
℟. Amen.
℣. For our absent brethren.
℟. O my God, save thy servants trusting in thee.
℣. Send them help, O Lord, from thy holy place.
℟. And from Sion protect them.
℣. O Lord hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

Let us Pray.

O God, whose property it is always to have mercy and to spare: receive our petitions: that we, and all thy servants, who are bound by the chain of sin, may, by the compassion of thy goodness, mercifully be absolved.

Hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy suppliants, and pardon us our sins, who confess them to thee; that of thy bounty, thou mayst grant us pardon and peace.

Out of thy clemency, O Lord, show us thy unspeakable mercy; that so thou mayst both acquit us of our sins, and deliver us from the punishment we deserve for them.

O God, who by sin art offended, and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of thy people, who make supplications to thee; and turn away the scourges of thy anger, which we deserve for our sins.

O almighty and eternal God, have mercy on thy servant N., our chief Bishop, and direct him, according to thy clemency, in the way of everlasting salvation; that, by thy grace, he may desire those things that are agreeable to thee, and perform them with all his strength.

O God, from whom are all holy desires, righteous counsels, and just works, give to thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts being disposed to keep thy commandments, and the fear of enemies taken away, the times, by thy protection, may be peaceable.

Inflame, O Lord, our reins and hearts with the fire of thy holy Spirit; to the end we may serve thee with a chaste body, and please thee with a clean heart.

O God, the Creator and Redeemer of all the faithful, give to the souls of thy servants departed the remission of all their sins; that, by pious supplications, they may obtain the pardon they have always desired.

Prevent, we beseech thee, O Lord, our actions by thy holy inspirations, and carry them on by thy gracious assistance; that every prayer and work of ours may always begin from thee, and by thee be happily ended.

O almighty and eternal God, who hast dominion over the living and the dead, and art merciful to all, who thou foreknowest shall be thine by faith and good works; we humbly beseech thee, that they, for whom we have determined to offer up our prayers, whether this present world still detain them in the flesh, or the world to come hath already received them out of their bodies, may, by the clemency of thy good ness, all thy saints interceding for them, obtain pardon and full remission of all their sins. Through, &c.
℟. Amen.

℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. May the almighty and most merciful Lord graciously hear us.
℟. Amen.

℣. And may the souls of the faithful, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.


MASS OF THE ROGATION DAYS

 

The Introit, which is taken from the Psalms, tells us of the mercy of God, and how He graciously hears our prayer the moment we make it.

Introit

Exaudivit de templo sancto suo vocem meam, alleluia: et clamor meus in conspectu ejus introivit in aures ejus. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Diligam te, Domine, virtus mea: Dominus firmamentum meum et refugium meum, et liberator meus.
℣. Gloria Patri. Exaudivit.
He hath graciously heard my voice from his holy temple, alleluia: and my cry before him came into his ears. Alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength! The Lord is my rock, my refuge, and my deliverer.
℣. Glory, &c. He hath, &c.

In the Collect, the Church represents the necessities of her children to almighty God. As a motive for His granting them His protection, she speaks of the confidence wherewith they ask it.

Collect

Præsta, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus, ut, qui in afflictione nostra de tua pietate confidimus, contra adversa omnia, tua semper protectionemuniamur. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who in our afflictions rely on thy goodness, may, under thy protection, be defended against all adversities. Through, &c.

Then are added the other Collects, as in the Mass of the fifth Sunday after Easter, page 119.


Epistle

Lectio Epistolæ beati Jacobi Apostoli.

Cap. v.

Charissimi, confitemini alterutrum peccata vestra, et orate pro invicem ut salvemini: multum enim valet deprecatio justi assidua. Elias homo erat similis nobis, passibilis: et oratione oravit ut non plueret super terram, et non pluit annos tres, et menses sex. Et rursum oravit: et cœlum dedit pluviam, et terra dedit fructum suum. Fratres mei, si quis ex vobis erraverit a veritate, et converterit quis eum: scire debet quoniam qui converti fecerit peccatorem ab errore viæ suæ, salvabit animam ejus a morte, et operiet multitudinem peccatorum.
Lesson of the Epistle of Saint James the Apostle.

Ch. v.

Dearly beloved: Confess your sins one to another; and pray one for another, that you may be saved. For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much. Elias was a man passible like unto us: and with prayer he prayed that it might not rain upon the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. My brethren, if any of you err from the truth, and one convert him; he must know, that he who caused a sinner to be converted from the error of his way, shall save his soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins.

Again it is the apostle St. James the Less, who speaks to us in to-day’s Epistle; and could any words be more appropriate? One of the motives for the institution of the Rogation days, is to obtain from God the blessing of weather favourable to the fruits of the earth; and St. James here adduces the example of Elias, to show us that prayer can stay or bring down the rain of heaven. Let us imitate the faith of this Prophet, and beg of our heavenly Father to give and preserve what we require for our nourishment. Another object of the Rogations, is to obtain the forgiveness of sin. If we pray with fervour for our brethren who are gone astray, we shall obtain for them the graces they stand in need of. We shall perhaps never know, during this life, those whom our prayer, united with the prayer of the Church, shall have converted from the error of their way; but the apostle assures us, that our charity will receive a rich reward,—the mercy of God upon ourselves.

In order the better to express mourning and communction in the Mass of the Rogation days, the Church not only uses purple vestments, she also retrenches somewhat of the joy of her canticles. She allows herself but one Alleluia-versicle; but it is full of hope in the goodness of her Lord.

Alleluia. ℣. Confitemini Domino, quoniam bonus: quoniam in sæculum misericordia ejus.
Alleluia. ℣. Praise the Lord, for he is good: and his mercy endureth for ever.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Lucam.

Cap. xi.

In illo tempore: Dixit Jesus discipulis suis: Quis vestrum habebit amicum, et ibit ad ilium media nocte, et dicet illi: Amice, commoda mihi tres panes, quoniam amicus meus venit de via ad me, et non habeo quod ponam ante illum; et ille deintus respondensdicat; Noli mihi molestus esse, jam ostium clausum est, et pueri mei mecum sunt in cubili: non possum surgere, et dare tibi. Et si ille perseveraverit pulsans: dico vobis, et si non dabit illi surgens eo quod amicus ejus sit, propter improbitatem tamen ejus surget, et dabit illi quotquot habet necessarios. Et ego dico vobis: Petite, et dabitur vobis: quærite, et invenietis: pulsate, et aperietur vobis. Omnis enim qui petit, accipit: et qui quærit, invenit: et pulsanti aperietur. Quis autem ex vobis patrem petit panem, numquid lapidem dabit illi? Aut piscem: numquid pro pisce serpentem dabit illi? Aut si petierit ovum: numquid porriget illi scorpionem? Si ergo vos, cum sitis mali, nostis bona data dare filiis vestris: quanto magis Pater vester de cœlo dabit spiritum bonum petentibus se?
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Luke.

Ch. xi.

At that time: Jesus said to his disciples: Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine has come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him: and he from within should answer and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet because of his importunity he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth. And I say to you: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?

Could anything show us the all-powerfulness of prayer more clearly than do these words of our Gospel? By thus putting them before us, holy Church shows us the importance of the Rogation days, since it is during them that she shows us the efficacy of supplication, which triumphs over the refusal of God Himself. The reader, who has followed us thus far in our work, must have observed how the passages of holy Writ, selected by the liturgy, form a continued series of instruction, appropriate to each day. During these three days, we are labouring to appease the anger of heaven; could there be a more fitting occasion for our being told that God cannot resist persevering prayer? The Litanies we have been chanting in procession, are a model of this holy obstinacy, or, as our Gospel terms it, this importunity, of prayer. How often did we repeat the same words! Lord have mercy on ns!—Deliver us, O Lord!—We beseech thee, hear us! The divine Paschal Lamb, who is about to be offered on our altar, will mediate for us; a few moments hence He will unite His ever efficacious intercession with our poor prayers. With such a pledge as this, we shall leave the holy place, feeling sure that these prayers have not been made in vain. Let us, therefore, make a resolution to keep aloof no longer from the holy practices of the Church; let us always prefer praying with her, to praying by ourselves; she is the spouse of Jesus, she is our common mother, and she always wishes us to take part with her in the prayers she offers up. Besides, is it not for us that she makes these prayers?

The Offertory is taken from the Psalms. It gives praise to God, who, notwithstanding our being poor sinners, permits Himself to be overcome by our prayers, rises in our defence, and gives us all we stand in need of.

Offertory

Confitebor Domino nimis in ore meo: et in medio multorum laudabo eum, qui adstitit a dextris pauperis: ut salvam faceret a persequentibus animam meam, alleluia.
I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth; and in the midst of many I will praise him, because he hath stood at the right hand of the poor, to save my soul from persecutors, alleluia.

The bonds of sin enchained us, and, of ourselves, we could not have returned to our Creator; but the Paschal Lamb has restored us our liberty; and as often as His Sacrifice is renewed upon the altar, our deliverance is achieved afresh. The Church expresses this in the Secret: her confidence rests on the divine Victim, which the Father has given us, and which she is now about to offer to Him.

Secret

Hæc munera, quæsumus, Domine, et vincula nostræ pravitatis absolvant, et tuæ nobis misericordiæ dona concilient. Per Dominum.
May these offerings, O Lord, loosen the bonds of our wickedness, and obtain for us the gift of thy mercy. Through, &c.

Then are added the other Secrets, as given above in the Mass of the fifth Sunday after Easter, page 124.


The Communion-anthem is the repetition of the consoling words of our Saviour, as given us in the Gospel. It is He Himself who authorizes us to ask for whatsoever we please; we cannot ask too much. None of us would have dared to say: ‘Whosoever makes a petition to God, will have his petition granted’: but now that the Son of God has come from heaven to teach us this astounding truth, we should never tire of repeating it.

Communion

Petite, et accipietis: quærite, et invenietis; pulsate, et aperietur vobis: omnis enim qui petit accipit: et qui quærit invenit: et pulsanti aperietur, alleluia.
Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened, alleiuia.

The Sacrifice of peace is consummated, and the Church gives free scope to her confidence by the words of thanksgiving expressed in the Postcommunion. The sacred gifts have brought us consolation; and our holy mother prays that consolation may prompt us to warmer love.

Postcommunion

Vota nostra, quæsumus Domine, pio favore prosequere: ut, dum dona tua in tribulatione percipimus, de consolatione nostra in tuo amore crescamus. Per Dominum.
We besecch thee, O Lord, mercifully receive our prayers; that while we partake of thy gifts in our affliction, the consolation we find may increase our love. Through, &c.

To this are added the other Postcommunions, as given above, in the Mass of the fifth Sunday after Easter, page 126.


We subjoin a liturgical fragment, taken from the Rogation Mass of the ancient Gallican rite. This prayer was one of the supplications made on the first of these three days, and it bears with it the marks of its venerable antiquity.

Prayer
(Post Nomina)

Tua sunt, Domine, alimonia, quibus in quotidiano victu ad sustentationem reficimur: tuaque jejunia, quibus carnem a lubrica voluptate, te præcipiente, restringimus. Tu ad consolationem nostram vicissitudines temporum disposuisti: ut tempus edendi corpora nostra refectio sobria aleret; et jejunandi tempus ea in justitiam tibi placitam faceret macerata. Hanc hostiam ob jejunia triduanæ macerationis a nobis oblatam sanctificans dignanteradsume, et præsta placatus: ut sopita delectatione corporea, mens ab iniquitatibus pariter conquiescat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
It is from thee, O Lord, we receive the food, wherewith we are daily supported; to thee also do we offer these fasts, whereby, according to thy command, we put upon our flesh the restraint from dangerous indulgence. Thou hast so ordered the changes of seasons, as to afford us consolation: thus the time for eating gives nourishment to the body, by sober repasts; and the time for fasting inflicts on them a chastisement pleasing to thy justice. Vouchsafe to bless and receive this our offering of a three days' penitential fast; and mercifully grant, that whilst our bodies abstain from gratification, our souls also may rest from sin. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[1] St. Luke, v. 34.
[2] Homil. de Rogationibus.
[3] Serm. clxxii; amongst the Sermons of St. Augustine.
[4] Canon xxvii.
[5] Canon xvii.
[6] Serm. clxxiv. Herbertus Turritanus. Miracul., lib. i. o. 21.
[7] De rebus bellicis Caroli Magni, cap. xvi.
[8] Surius: ad diem xix. Novembris.
[9] Giussano: Life of St. Charles Borromeo.
[10] Cant. viii. 14.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

To-day, again, the great Litany, the supplication, is heard from the house of the Lord: the solemn procession re-appears in the streets of the city, and in the quiet lanes of the country. Let us take our share in this sacred rite; let us blend our voice with that of our mother, and join the cry that pierces the clouds: Kyrie eleison! Lord have mercy on us! Let us think, for a moment, of the countless sins that are being committed, day and night; and let us sue for mercy. In the days of Noe, all flesh had corrupted its way;[1] but men thought not of asking for mercy. The flood came, and destroyed them all,[2] says our Saviour. Had they prayed, had they begged God’s pardon, the hand of His justice would have been stayed, and the flood-gates of heaven would not have been opened.[3] The day is to come, when not water as heretofore, but fire, is suddenly to be enkindled by the divine wrath, and is to burn the whole earth. It shall burn even the foundations of the mountains;[4] it shall devour sinners, who will be resting then, as they were in the days of Noe, in a false security.

Persecuted by her enemies, decimated by the martyrdom of her children, afflicted by numerous apostasies from the faith, and deprived of every human aid, the Church will know that the terrible chastisement is at hand, for prayer will then be as rare as faith. Let us, therefore, pray; that thus the day of wrath may be put off, the Christian life regain something of its ancient vigour, and the end of the world not be in our times. There are even yet Catholics in every part of the world; but their number has visibly decreased. Heresy is now in possession of whole countries, that were once faithful to the Church. In others, where heresy has not triumphed, religious indifference has left the majority of men with nothing of Catholicity but the name, seeing that they neglect even their most essential obligations without remorse. Among many of those who fulfil the precepts of the Church, truths are diminished.[5] The old honesty of faith has been superseded by loose ideas and half- formed convictions. A man is popular in proportion to the concessions he makes in favour of principles condemned by the Church. The sentiments and actions of the saints, the conduct and teaching of the Church, are taxed with exaggeration, and decried as being unsuited to the period. The search after comforts has become a serious study; the thirst for earthly goods is a noble passion; independence is an idol to which everything must be sacrificed; submission is a humiliation which must be got rid of, or, where that cannot be, it must not be publicly acknowledged. Finally, there is sensualism, which, like an impure atmosphere, so impregnates every class of society, that one would suppose there was a league formed to abolish the cross of Christ from the minds of men.

What miseries must not follow from this systematic setting aside of the conditions imposed by God upon His creatures? If the Gospel be the word of infinite Truth, how can men oppose it without drawing down upon themselves the severest chastisements? Would that these chastisements might work the salvation of them that have provoked them! Let us humble ourselves before the sovereign holiness of our God, and confess our guilt. The sins of men are increasing both in number and in enormity. The picture we have just drawn is sad enough; what would it have been, had we added such abominations as these, which we purposely excluded: downright impiety; corrupt doctrines, which are being actively propagated throughout the world; dealings with satan, which threaten to degrade our age to the level of pagan times; the conspiracy organized against order, justice, and religion, by secret societies? Oh! let us unite our prayer with that of holy Church, and say to our God: From Thy wraths deliver us, O Lord!

The Rogation days were instituted for another end besides this of averting the divine anger. We must beg our heavenly Father to bless the fruits of the earth; we must beseech Him, with all the earnestness of public prayer, to give us our daily bread. ‘The eyes of all,’ says the psalmist, ‘hope in Thee, O Lord! and Thou givest them food in due season. Thou openest Thy hand, and fillest with blessing every living creature.'[6] In accordance with the consoling doctrine conveyed by these words, the Church prays to God, that He would, this year, give to all living creatures on earth the food they stand in need of. She acknowledges that we are not worthy of the favour, for we are sinners. Let us unite with her in this humble confession; but, at the same time, let us join her in beseeching our Lord to make mercy triumph over justice. How easily could He frustrate the self-conceited hopes, and the clever systems of men! They own that all depends on the weather; and on whom does that depend? They cannot do without God. True, they seldom speak of Him, and He permits Himself to be forgotten by them; but 'He neither sleepeth nor slumbereth, that keepeth Israel.’[7] He has but to withold His blessing, and all their progress in agricultural science, whereby they boast to have made famine an impossibility, is of no effect. Some unknown disease comes upon a vegetable; it causes distress among the people, and endangers the social order of a world that has secularized itself from the Christian law, and would at once perish, but for the mercy of the God it affects to ignore.

If, then, our heavenly Father deign, this year, to bless the fruits of the earth, we may say, in all truth, that He gives food to them that forget and blaspheme Him, as well as to them that make Him the great object of their thoughts and of their service. Men of no religion will profit by the blessing, but they will not acknowledge it to be His; they will proclaim more loudly than ever, that nature’s laws are now so well regulated by modern science, that she cannot help going on well! God will be silent, and will feed the men who thus insult Him. But why does He not speak? Why does He not make His wrath felt? Because His Church has prayed; because He has found the ten just men,[8] that is, the few for whose sake He mercifully consents to spare the world. He therefore permits these learned economists, whom He could so easily disconcert, to go on talking and writing. Thanks to this His patience, some of them will grow tired of their impious absurdity; an unexpected circumstance will open their eyes to the truth, and they will, one day, join us both in faith and in prayer. Others will go deeper and deeper into blasphemy; they will go on to the last, defying God’s justice, and fulfilling in themselves that terrible saying of holy Scripture: ‘The Lord hath made all things for Himself; the wicked also for the evil day.’[9]

We, who glory in the simplicity of our faith, who acknowledge that we have all from God and nothing from ourselves, who confess that we are sinners and undeserving of His gifts, will ask Him, during these three days, to give us the food we require; we will say to Him, with holy Church: That Thou vouchsafe to give and preserve the fruits of the earth: We beseech Thee, hear us!May He have pity on us in our necessities! Next year, we will return to Him with the same earnest request. We will march, under the standard of the cross, through the same roads, making the air resound with the same litanies. We will do this with all the greater confidence, at the thought that our holy mother is marshalling her children in every part of Christendom, in this solemn and suppliant procession. For thirteen hundred years has our God been accustomed to receive the petitions of His faithful people, at this season of the year; He shall have the same homage from us; nay, we will endeavour, by the fervour of our prayer, to make amends for the indifference and ignorance which are combining to do away with old Catholic customs, which our forefathers prized and loved.


The Mass is the same as yesterday’s, page 144.


We offer our readers the following prayer, taken from the ancient Gallican liturgy, and composed at a period when the observance of the Rogation days was in its first fervour.

Prayer
(Contestatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, te tota cordis contritione in jejunio laudare, omnipotene sempiterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui nos mysteriorum tuorum secretis informans, pacificum nemus ore colum- bae gestatum, Noe oculis ostendens, nobis de virente arbore crucis gloriosum signum expressit: quem columbæ species in Christi decoravit honore, cunctis colendum Spiritus sanetifi- catione demonstrans. Cujus animalis innocentia esse similes præoptantes, ab eo- que sanctificari Spiritu, cujus ipse sumpsit speciem, exorantes; in hoc jejunio triduana humiliatione instituto, invictum hoc signum cum plebium cuneis præferentes, atque Majestatem tuam psalencii modulatione laudantes, petimus, omnipotens Deus: ut accipias cuncta piebis vota, quæque quoquo ritu tibi reddit subjecta: et ita eos in hoc jejunio sancti- fices, ut a cunctis mereantur exui peccatis.
It is truly meet and just, that, in all contrition of heart, we should praise thee by our fast, O almighty and eternal God, through Christ ourLord. Who, having come to teach us the hidden things of thy mysteries, revealed to us the symbol, shown to Noe, of the peaceful olive-branch borne in the dove’s beak: it was the glorious figure of the beautiful tree of the cross. It was in honour of Christ that the dove prefigured the cross, signifying that it was to bo venerated by all men, through the grace of the holy Spirit. We desire to be like this bird, by the innocence of our lives; we pray that we may be sanctified by that Spirit, of whom it was the figure. Therefore do we offer up our prayers in these three days of fasting and humiliation, carrying, at the head of the army of the faithful, the invincible standard of the cross, and singing psalms in praise of thy divine Majesty. We beseech thee, O almighty God, that thou receive ail the prayers of thy people, and the sacred rites whereby they present them to thee. We also beseech thee so to sanctify them by this their fast, that they may deserve to be freed from all their sins.

[1] Gen. vi. 12.
[2] Gen. vii. 11.
[3] St. Luke, xvii. 27.
[4] Deut. xxx. 22.
[5] Ps. xi. 2.
[6] Ps. cxliv. 15, 16.
[7] Ps. cxx. 4.
[8] Gen. xviii. 32.
[9] Prov. xvi. 4.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

For the third time, holy Church marshals her children in procession, and makes a solemn appeal to the divine mercy. Let us follow her sacred standard, and join her in invoking the intercession of the saints. The Litany, in which we pray to all the choirs of the heavenly Jerusalem, is both a magnificent and a powerful prayer: it is the Church triumphant uniting with the Church militant in praying for the salvation of the world.

O Mary! Mother of God, Virgin of virgins, miracle of divine power, exercise in our favour thy maternal mediation with Him, who, though God, is thy Son!

Michael the invincible, Gabriel, welcome messenger of our salvation, Raphael, affectionate physician of them that are suffering; Angels and Archangels, who watch over us, and co-operate in the work of our salvation; all ye choirs of blessed spirits, who are waiting for your ranks to be filled up by the elect of earth: intercede for your brethren, your clients!

John the Baptist, precursor of the Lamb of God; Joseph, spouse of Mary Immaculate, and foster-father of the Son of God; patriarchs, the glorious forefathers of the human race, and ancestors of the Messias; prophets, who foretold His coming, and described the events of His life, that so the earth might recognize Him as its promised Redeemer: remember us who are living in this exile, through which you also passed!

Peter, universal pastor, that holdest the keys of the kingdom of heaven; Paul, apostle of the Gentiles, armed with the sword of the word, and immolated by the sword of martyrdom; Andrew, crucified like thy master; James the Greater, son of thunder, founder of the Catholic kingdom; John, the beloved disciple, the adopted son and guardian of Mary, evangelist and prophet; Thomas, apostle of the Indies, pierced to death by a spear; James the Less, surnamed the 'brother of the Lord ’; Philip, who didst preach the Gospel to the Scythians, and wast crucified at Hierapolis; Bartholomew, the teacher and martyr of Armenia; Matthew, the evangelist, who didst carry the faith into the scorching regions of Ethiopia; Simon, by whose zeal Mesopotamia was led to the knowledge of Christ; Thaddeus, the courageous destroyer of the idols of Egypt; Mathias, chosen to fill up the place of the traitor Judas, and well worthy of the honour; Barnabas, Paul’s companion, and the light of the isle of Cyprus; Luke, disciple of the apostle of the Gentiles, and historian of the Incarnate Word; Mark, disciple of Peter, under whose direction thou wrotest the Gospel of salvation: we devoutly honour you as our fathers in the faith; pray for and with us!

Disciples of our Lord, who, though not raised to the rank of apostles, were chosen by Him to be their fellow-labourers, and who, on the day of Pentecost, were filled with the Holy Ghost; dear Innocents of Bethlehem, first-fruits of the martyrs: deign to join us in our supplications!

Stephen the crowned, Laurence the brave and cheerful winner of immortal laurels, Vincent the victorious,—the glorious triumvirate of deacons; Fabian, pontiff designated by a dove sent from heaven; Sebastian, dauntless soldier of holy Church; John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, Gervasius and Protasius, brothers by nature and by martyrdom; oh! all ye holy martyrs, protect us under the shadow of your palms!

Sylvester, pontiff of peace; Gregory, vicar both of the meekness and of the authority of Christ; Ambrose, whose eloquence was sweet as honey, and whose courage was as that of a lion; Augustine, doctor of doctors, and apostle of divine charity; Jerome inspired interpreter of the Scriptures; Martin thaumaturgus of the west, and Nicholas, wonder-worker in the east; holy pontiffs, holy doctors of the Church, lead back to Christ all His sheep that have gone astray.

Antony, the glory of the desert, and the conqueror of satan; Benedict, the Abraham of the new Testament, whose children are countless as the stars of heaven; Bernard, pillar of the Church, and favourite of the Mother of God; Dominic, preacher of divine truth, and scourge of heresy; Francis friend and spouse of poverty, crucified together with Christ; we honour you all; enkindle within our souls the desire of Christian perfection!

Priests of the Lord; holy monks, and hermits, and confessors: pray for us who implore your aid!

Mary Magdalene, once a sinner, but afterwards a saint, whose devotedness to Jesus was so generous and fervent: obtain for us that compunction of heart, which makes amends for sin by love!

Agatha and Lucy, beautiful flowers of fair Sicily; Agnes, who followest the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; Cecily, wreathed with thy roses and lilies, and queen of sweet melody; Catharine the wise virgin that confoundest the false wisdom of philosophers; Anastasia, the valiant woman that didst triumph over the trials of life and the severity of tortures; oh! all ye holy virgins, spouses of Jesus, look with compassion on us who are dwelling in this land of exile!

All ye holy men and women, saints of God, who now reign in heaven above, think of us your brethren, who mourn in this vale of tears. We, too, are created for eternal happiness; and yet the vanities of time engross our thoughts and affections. Make intercession for us, that, henceforth, we may walk worthy of God, who hath called us unto His kingdom and glory.[1]

The Litany is finished; and for the third time, the holy Sacrifice is about to work reconciliation between our God and us His guilty children. Let us hope that He will make this a year of peace and plenty; and next year, when the Church invites us to join her in this public supplication for pardon, may the number of those who respond to her call, be such as to merit an increase of every blessing!

The Mass is given above, page 144. Let us assist at it with a deep conviction of our own insufficiency to make atonement for our sins, and yet with a firm confidence in the infinite merits of the Paschal Lamb, our risen Jesus.

The ancient Church of Gaul used to recite the following prayer on this third of the Rogation days. It will aid us to a spirit of penance.

Prayer
(Immolatio)

Vere dignum et justum est, satisque eat dignum: te solum a jejunantibus quæ- rere, qui es magister absti- nentiæ, et continentiæ re- munerator æterne: quique a jejunantibua fideli tantum corde exposcunt abstergi omnem maculam, quam sa- turitas contrahit indecens. Hoc itaque sanctum jeju- nium in Leviticis apicibus per famulum tuum Moysen evidentius declarasti: in quo jussisti ut humiliaremus animas nostras, ne extermi- naremur; sicut esu gulæ deditus populus, extermi- natur. Quod etiam nobis Unigenitus tuus ita sancti- ticavit implendo: et ut re- gnum perditum per jejuni- um panderet, et peccatis ve- niam daret. Et ideo quæ instituisti, jejunia suscipe libens, per ea nos a reatibus cunctis absolvens.
It is truly meet and just, yea most meet, that they who fast should seek thee alone, thee that art the teacher of abstinence, and the giver of eternal rewards to them that practise it. To them that fast, thou grantest what they, with faith, ask of thee: thou clean- sest them from the stains contracted by intemperate indulgence. It was thou that didst proclaim holy fasting by thy servant Moses, in the book of Leviticus; wherein thou commandedst that we should humble our souls, lest we should be destroyed, as was the people that gave themselves up to excess in eating. Thine only-begotten Son sanctified this institution by himself fulfilling it, and, by his fast, opening to us the kingdom we had lost, and pardoning our sins. Do thou, therefore, graciously accept the fasts thou hast instituted, and, by them, absolve us from all our guilt.

The third morning of the Rogation days is over; the hour of noon has come, and from it we begin to count the hours of the last day which the Son of God is to spend upon earth in His visible presence. During these three days, we seem to have forgotten that the time of separation is close upon us; but no: the thought of our coming trial has often presented itself, and the humble supplications we have been presenting to heaven, in union with holy Church, have prepared us to celebrate the last mystery achieved by our Emmanuel on earth.

The disciples are all assembled in Jerusalem. They are grouped around the blessed Mother, in the cenacle, awaiting the hour when their divine Master is to appear to them for the last time. Recollected and silent, they are reflecting upon all the kindness and condescension He has been lavishing upon them during the last forty days; they are ruminating upon the instructions they have received from His sacred lips. They know Him so well now! They know in very deed that He came out from the Father.[2] As to what regards themselves, they have learned from Him what their mission is: they have to go, ignorant men as they are, and teach all nations;[3] but (Oh sad thought!) He is about to leave them; yet a little while, and they shall not see Him![4]

What a contrast between their sorrow and the smiling face of nature, which is decked out in her best, for she is going to celebrate the triumphant departure of her Creator! The earth is blooming with the freshness of her first-fruits, the meadows have put on their richest emerald, the air is perfumed with blossom and flower; and all this loveliness of spring is due to the bright sun that shines upon the earth to give her gladness and life, and is privileged to be, both by its kingly splendour and the successive phases of its influence upon our globe, the grand symbol of our Emmanuel’s passage through this world.

Let us go back in thought to the dismal days of the winter solstice. The sun looked then so pallid; his triumph over night was slow and short; he rose, and sank again, often without our seeing him; his light had a certain timid reserve about it, and his heat was, for weeks, too feeble to rescue nature from the grasp of frost. Such was our divine Sun of justice, when first He came on earth; His rays made but little way in the world’s thick gloom; He kept His splendour in, lest men should be dazzled by too sudden a change from darkness to light. Like the material sun, He gained upon the world by slow advances; and even so, His progress was shrouded by many a cloud. His sojourn in the land of Egypt, His hidden life at Nazareth, were long periods during which He was wholly lost sight of. But when the time came for Him to show Himself, His glory shone forth, with all its magnificence, upon Galilee and Judea; He spoke as one having power,[5] His works bore testimony to His being God,[6] and the people hailed Him with the cry of 'Hosanna to the Son of David!'

He was almost at the zenith of His glory, when suddenly came the eclipse of His Passion and Death. For some hours, His enemies flattered themselves that they had for ever put out His light. Vain hope! On the third day, our divine Sun triumphed over this final obstruction, and now stands in the firmament, pouring out His light upon all creation, but warning us that His course is run. For He can never descend; there is no setting for Him; and here finishes the comparison between Himself and the orb of day. It is from heaven itself that He, our beautiful Orient, is henceforth to enlighten and direct us, as Zachary foretold at the birth of the Baptist.[7] The royal prophet, too, thus exultingly sang of Him: 'He hath rejoiced, as a giant, to run the way: His going out is from the highest heaven, and His circuit even to the summit thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from His heat.’[8]

This Ascension, which enthroned our Emmanuel as the eternal centre of light, was, by His own decree, to take place on one of the days of the month which men call May, and which clothes in its richest beauty the creation of this same God, who, when He had made it, was pleased with it, and found it very good.[9] Sweet month of May! Not gloomy and cold like December, which brought us the humble joys of Bethlehem; not lowering and clouded like March, when the Lamb was sacrificed on Calvary; but buoyant with sunshine, and flowers, and life, and truly worthy to be offered, each year, to Mary, the Mother of God, for it is the month of her Jesus’ triumph.

O Jesus! our Creator and our Brother! our eyes and heart have followed Thee from Thy first rising upon our world. We have celebrated, in the holy liturgy, each of Thy giant steps. But Thy very growth in beauty and brightness told us that Thou must one day leave us, to go and take possession of the place that was alone worthy of Thee, the throne at the right hand of Thine eternal Father. The splendour that has been on Thee since Thy Resurrection, is not of this world; Thou canst no longer abide among us. Thou hast remained here below, for these forty days, only for the sake of consolidating Thy work; and tomorrow the earth that has been blessed with Thy presence for three and thirty years, will be deprived of its privilege and joy. We rejoice at Thy approaching triumph, as did Thy blessed Mother, Thy disciples, Mary Magdalene and her companions; but we are sad at the thought of losing Thee, and Thou wilt forgive us. Thou wast our Emmanuel, our ‘God with us'; henceforth, Thou art to be our Sun, our King, reigning from the throne of heaven, and we shall no longer be able to hear Thee, nor see Thee, nor touch Thee, O Word of life![10] Still, dearest Jesus, we say to Thee with all our hearts: Glory and love be to Thee, for Thou hast treated us with infinite mercy! Thou owedst nothing to us; we were unworthy of a single look from Thee; and yet Thou camest down to this sinful earth, Thou hast dwelt among us, Thou hast paid our ransom by Thy Blood, Thou hast re-established peace between God and man. Oh, yes! it is most just that Thou shouldst now return to Him that sent Thee.[11] The Church, Thy bride, consents to her exile; she thinks only of what is most glorious to her Jesus; and she thus addresses Thee, in the words of the Canticle: 'Flee away, O my Beloved! and be swift as the roe and as the young hart, and ascend to the mountains, where the flowers of heaven exhale their sweet fragrance!’[12] Can we, poor sinners as we are, refuse to imitate this loving resignation of her, who is Thy bride, and our mother?


[1] I Thess, ii. 12.
[2] St. John, xvii. 8.
[3] St. Matth. xxviii. 19.
[4] St. John, xvi. 16.
[5] St. Matth. vii. 29.
[6] St. John, x, 26.
[7] St. Luke, i. 79.
[8] Ps. xviii. 6, 7.
[9] Gen. i. 31.
[10] I St. John, i. 1.
[11] St. John, xvi. 5.
[12] Cant. viii. 14.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

Including descriptions of the following:

The sun of the fortieth day has risen in all his splendour. The earth, which shook with gladness at the birth of our Emmanuel,[1] now thrills with a strange emotion. The divine series of the mysteries of the Man-God is about to close. Heaven has caught up the joy of earth. The angelic choirs are preparing to receive their promised King, and their princes stand at the gates, that they may open them when the signal is given of the mighty conqueror’s approach.[2] The holy souls, that were liberated from limbo on the morning of the Resurrection, are hovering round Jerusalem, waiting for the happy moment when heaven’s gate, closed by Adam’s sin, shall be thrown open, and they shall enter in company with their Redeemer:—a few hours more, and then to heaven! Meanwhile, our risen Jesus has to visit His disciples and bid them farewell, for they are to be left for some years longer in this vale of tears.

They are in the cenacle, impatiently awaiting His coming. Suddenly He appears in their midst. Of the Mother’s joy, who would dare to speak? As to the disciples and the holy women, they fall down and affectionately adore the Master, who has come to take His leave of them. He deigns to sit down to table with them; He even condescends to eat with them, not, indeed, to give them proof of His Resurrection, for He knows that they have no further doubts of the mystery; but now that He is about to sit at the right hand of the Father, He would give them this endearing mark of familiarity. Oh admirable repast! in which Mary, for the last time in this world, is seated side by side with her Jesus, and in which the Church, (represented by the disciples and the holy women) is honoured by the visible presidency of her Head and Spouse.

What tongue could describe the respect, the recollected mien, the attention of the guests? With what love must they have riveted their eyes on the dear Master! They long to hear Him speak; His parting words will be so treasured! He does not keep them long in suspense: He speaks, but His language is not what they perhaps expected it to be, all affection. He begins by reminding them of the incredulity wherewith they heard of His Resurrection.[3] He is going to entrust His apostles with the most sublime mission ever given to man; He would, therefore, prepare them for it by humbling them. A few days hence they are to be the lights of the world; the world must believe what they preach, believe it on their word, believe it without having seen, believe what the apostles alone have seen. It is by faith that man approaches his God: they themselves were once without it, and Jesus would have them now express their sorrow for their former incredulity, and thus base their apostolate on humility.

Then, assuming a tone of authority, such as none but a God could take, He says to them: 'Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not, shall be condemned.’[4] And how shall they accomplish this mission of preaching the Gospel to the whole world? how shall they persuade men to believe their word? By miracles. ‘And these signs,’ continues Jesus, ‘shall follow them that believe: in My name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.’[5] He would have miracles to be the foundation of His Church, just as He had made them the argument of His own divine mission. The suspension of the laws of nature proves to us that it is God who speaks; we must receive the word, and humbly believe it.

Here, then, we have men unknown to the world and devoid of every human means, and yet commissioned to conquer the earth and make it acknowledge Jesus as its King! The world ignores their very existence. Tiberius, who sits on the imperial throne, trembling at every shadow of conspiracy, little suspects that there is being prepared an expedition which is to conquer the Roman empire. But these warriors must have their armour, and the armour must be of heaven’s own tempering. Jesus tells them that they are to receive it a few days hence. ‘Stay,’' says He, ‘in the city, till ye be endued with power from on high.’[6] But what is this armour? Jesus explains it to them. He reminds them of the Father’s promise, ‘that promise,’ says He, ‘which ye have heard by my mouth; for John, indeed, baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.’[7]

But the hour of separation is come. Jesus rises: His blessed Mother, and the hundred and twenty persons assembled there, prepare to follow Him. The cenacle is situated on Mount Sion, which is one of the two hills within the walls of Jerusalem. The holy group traverses the city, making for the eastern gate, which opens on the valley of Josaphat. It is the last time that Jesus walks through the faithless city. He is invisible to the eyes of the people who denied. Him, but visible to His disciples, and goes before them, as heretofore the pillar of fire led on the Israelites. How beautiful and imposing a sight! Mary, the disciples, and the holy women accompanying Jesus in His heavenward journey, which is to lead Him to the right hand of His eternal Father! It was commemorated in the middle ages by a solemn procession before the Mass of Ascension day. What happy times were those, when Christians took delight in honouring every action of our Redeemer! They could not be satisfied as we are, with a few vague notions, which can produce nothing but an equally vague devotion.

They reflected on the thoughts which Mary must have had during these last moments of her Son’s presence. They used to ask themselves, which of the two sentiments was uppermost in her maternal heart, —sadness, that she was to see her Jesus no more, or joy, that He was now going to enter into the glory He so infinitely deserved. The answer was soon found: had not Jesus said to His disciples: ‘If ye loved Me, ye would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father.’[8] Now, who loved Jesus as Mary did? The Mother’s heart, then, was full of joy at parting with Him. How was she to think of herself, when there was question of the triumph of her Son and her God? Could she that had witnessed the scene of Calvary, do less than desire to see Him glorified, whom she knew to be the sovereign Lord of all things,—Him whom, but a short time ago, she had seen rejected by His people, blasphemed, and dying the most ignominious and cruel of deaths?

The holy group has traversed the valley of Josaphat; it has crossed the brook Cedron, and is moving onwards to Mount Olivet. What recollections would crowd on the mind! This torrent, of which Jesus had drunk on the day of His humiliation, is now the path He takes to triumph and glory. The royal prophet had foretold it.[9] On their left, are the garden and the cave, where He suffered His agony and accepted the bitter chalice of His Passion. After having come as far as what St. Luke calls the distance of the journey allowed to the Jews on a Sabbath-day,[10] they are close to Bethania, that favoured village, where Jesus used to accept hospitality at the hands of Lazarus and his two sisters. This part of Mount Olivet commands a view of Jerusalem. The sight of its temple and palaces makes the disciples proud of their earthly city: they have forgotten the curse uttered against her; they seem to have forgotten, too, that Jesus has just made them citizens and conquerors of the whole world. They begin to dream of the earthly grandeur of Jerusalem, and, turning to their divine Master, they venture to ask Him this question: ‘Lord, wilt Thou, at this time, restore again the kingdom to Israel?’[11]

Jesus answers them with a tone of severity: ‘It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father hath put in His own power.'[12] These words do not destroy the hope that Jerusalem is to be restored by the Christian Israel; but, as this is not to happen till the world is drawing towards its end, there is nothing that requires our Saviour’s revealing the secret. What ought to be uppermost in the mind of the disciples, is the conversion of the pagan world, the establishment of the Church. Jesus reminds them of the mission He has just given to them: ‘Ye shall receive', says He, ‘the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth.'[13]

According to a tradition, which has been handed down from the earliest ages of Christianity, [14] it is midday, the same hour at which He was raised up, when nailed to His cross. Giving His blessed Mother a look of filial affection, and another of fond farewell to the rest of the group that stand around Him, Jesus raises up His hands and blesses them all. While thus blessing them, He is raised up from the ground whereon He stands, and ascends into heaven.[15] Their eyes follow Him, until a cloud comes and receives Him out of their sight.[16]

Yes, Jesus is gone! The earth has lost her Emmanuel!—For four thousand years had He been expected: the patriarchs and prophets had desired His coming with all the fervour of their souls. He came. His love made Him our captive in the chaste womb of the Virgin of Nazareth; it was there He first received our adorations. Nine months after, the blessed Mother offered Him to our joyous love in the stable at Bethlehem. We followed Him into Egypt; we returned with Him; we dwelt with Him at Nazareth. When He began the three years of His public life, we kept close to His steps; we delighted in being near Him, we listened to His preaching and parables, we saw His miracles. The malice of His enemies reached its height; and the time came wherein He was to give us the last and grandest proof of the love that had brought Him from heaven, by dying for us on a cross. We kept near Him as He died, and our souls were purified by the Blood that flowed from His wounds. On the third day, He rose again from His grave, and we stood by exulting in His triumph over death, for that triumph won for us a like resurrection. During the forty days He has deigned to spend with us since His Resurrection, our faith has made us cling to Him: we would fain have kept Him with us for ever,—but the hour is come: He has left us. Yes, our dearest Jesus is gone! Oh happy the souls that He had taken from limbo! They have gone with Him, and, for all eternity, are to enjoy the heaven of His visible presence.

The disciples are still steadfastly looking up towards heaven, when lo! two angels, clad in white robes, appear to them, saying: ‘Ye men of Galilee! why stand ye looking up to heaven? This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as ye have seen Him going into heaven!’[17] He has ascended, a Saviour; He is to return, a Judge: between these two events is comprised the whole life of the Church on earth. We are therefore living under the reign of Jesus as our Saviour, for He has said: ‘God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved by Him:’[18] and to carry out this merciful design He has just been giving to His disciples the mission to go throughout the whole world, and invite men, while yet there is time, to accept the mystery of salvation.

What a task is this He imposes on the apostles! And now that they are to begin their work, He leaves them! They return from Mount Olivet, and Jesus is not with them! And yet, they are not sad; they have Mary to console them; her unselfish generosity is their model, and well do they learn the lesson.

They love Jesus; they rejoice at the thought of His having entered into His rest. ‘They went back into Jerusalem with great joy.’[19] These few simple words of the Gospel indicate the spirit of this admirable feast of the Ascension: it is a festival which, notwithstanding its soft tinge of sadness, is, more than any other, expressive of joy and triumph. During its octave, we will endeavour to describe its mystery and magnificence: we would only observe for the present, that this solemnity is the completion of the mysteries of our redemption; that it is one of those which were instituted by the apostles;[20] and finally, that it has impressed a character of sacredness on the Thursday of each week, the day already so highly honoured by the institution of the Eucharist.

We have alluded to the procession, whereby our Catholic forefathers used, on this feast, to celebrate the journey of Jesus and His disciples to Mount Olivet. Another custom observed on the Ascension, was the solemn blessing given to bread and to the new fruits: it was commemorative of the farewell repast taken by Jesus in the cenacle. Let us imitate the piety of the ages of faith, when Christians loved to honour the very least of our Saviour’s actions, and, so to speak, make them their own, by thus interweaving the minutest details of His life into their own. What earnest reality of love and adoration was given to our Jesus in those olden times, when His being sovereign Lord and Redeemer was the ruling principle of both individual and social life! Now-a-days, we may follow the principle, as fervently as we please, in the privacy of our own consciences, or, at most, in our own homes; but publicly, and when we are before the world, no! To say nothing of the evil results of this modern limitation of Jesus’ rights as our King, what could be more sacrilegiously unjust to Him who deserves our whole service, everywhere and at all times? The angels said to the apostles: 'This Jesus shall come, as ye have seen Him going into heaven:’ happy we, if, during His absence, we shall have so unreservedly loved and served Him, as to be able to meet Him with confidence when He comes to judge us.

We will not here insert the Office of first Vespers, inasmuch as this festival is fixed for the Thursday; so that its vigil can never fall on a Sunday, and the faithful, consequently, have not the habit of assisting at them. Moreover, with the exception of the versicle and the Magnificat antiphon, the first and second Vespers are exactly alike.

 

MASS

 

The Roman missal gives St. Peter’s as the Station for to-day. It was a happy thought to choose this basilica, inasmuch as it possesses the tomb of one of the chief witnesses of Jesus’ Ascension. It is still the stational church; but for now several centuries, the Pope and sacred college of Cardinals repair to the Lateran basilica. It is in this venerable church, dedicated by Constantine to the Saviour of the world, that is closed our yearly series of the mysteries whereby the Son of God wrought our salvation.

In these two magnificent basilicas, as well as in the humblest church of Christendom, the liturgical symbol of the feast is the Paschal Candle. It was first lighted on the night of the Resurrection, and was to remind us, by its forty days’ presence, of the time which Jesus spent among His brethren, after He had risen from the grave. The eyes of the faithful are fixed upon it, and its light seems to be burning more brightly, now that we are about to lose it. Let us bless our holy mother Church, whom the Holy Ghost has taught to instruct us and excite us to devotion by so many admirable symbols. Let us glorify our divine master, who says, speaking of Himself: ‘I am the light of the world.'[21]

The Introit is the solemn announcement of to-day’s mystery. It is formed of the angels’ words to the apostles: Jesus has ascended into heaven; He is to come down again at the last day.

Introit

Viri Galilæi, quid admiramini, aspicientes in cœlum? Alleluia: quemadmodum vidistis eum ascendentem in cœlum, ita veniet. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Omnes gentes plaudite manibus: jubilate Deo in voce exsultationis.
℣. Gloria Patri. Viri Galilæi.
Ye men of Galilee! why look ye wondering, up to heaven? Alleluia. As ye have seen him ascending into heaven, so shall he come. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
Ps. Clap your hands, all ye nations: shout unto God, with the voice of joy.
℣. Glory. &c. Ye men, &c.

In the Collect, the Church sums up the prayers of her children, and beseeches God to grant them the grace of keeping their hearts fixed on their Redeemer, and of desiring to be united with Him in that home above, which He has gone to prepare for them.

Collect

Concede, quæsumus, omnipotens Deus: ut qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum Redemptorem nostrum ad cœlos ascendisse credimus, ipsi quoque mente in cœlestibus habitemus. Per eumdem.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who believe that thy only-begotten Son, our Redeemer, ascended this day into heaven, may also dwell there in desire. Through the same &c.

Epistle

Lectio Actuum Apostolorum.

Cap. i.

Primum quidem sermonem feci de omnibus, o Theophile, quæ cœpit Jesus facere et docere, usque in diem, qua præcipiens apostolis per Spiritum Sanctum, quos elegit, assumptus est: quibus et praebuit seipsum vivum post passionem suam in multis argumentis, per dies quadraginta apparens eis, et loquens de regno Dei. Et convescens, præcepit eis ab Jerosolymis ne discederent, sed expectarent promissionem Patris, quam audistis (inquit) per os meum: quia Joannes quidem baptizavit aqua, vos autem baptizabimini Spiritu Sancto non post multos hos dies. Igitur qui convenerant interrogabant eum dicentes: Domine, si in tempore hoc restitues regnum Israel? Dixit autem eis: Non est vestrum nosse tempora vel momenta, quæ Pater posuit in sua potestate: sed accipietis virtutem supervenientis Spiritus Sancti in vos, et eritis mihi testes in Jerusalem, et in omni Judæa, et Samaria, et usque ad ultimum terræ. Et cum hæc dixisset, videntibus illis, elevatus est: et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum. Cumque intuerentur in cœlum euntem illum, ecce duo viri adstiterunt juxta illos in vestibus albis, qui et dixerunt: Viri Galilæi, quid statis aspicientes in cœlum? Hic Jesus, qui assumptus est a vobis in cœlum, sic veniet, quemadmodum vidistis eum euntem in cœlum.
Lesson from the Acts of the Apostles.

Ch. i.

The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up. To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them and speaking of the kingdom of God. And eating together with them, he commanded them, that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the promise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth; for John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. They, therefore, who were come together asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? But he said to them: It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father hath put in his own power; but you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold two men stood by them in white garments. Who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven.

This admirable description of our Jesus’ Ascension, brings the mystery so vividly before us, that we almost seem to see the happy group on Mount Olivet. With what affection the disciples gaze upon the divine Master as they see Him rising up towards heaven, and stretching out His hand to bless them! Their eyes, though full of tears, are riveted on the cloud which has come between themselves and Jesus. They are alone on the mount; Jesus’ visible presence is taken from them. How wretched would they not feel in the desert land of their exile, were it not for His supporting grace, and for that holy Spirit who is about to come down and create within them a new being? So then, it is only in heaven that they can ever again see the face of Jesus, who, God as He is, deigned to be their Master for three long happy years, and on the evening of the Last Supper, called them His friends!

Neither are they the only ones who feel this separation. Our earth leaped with joy as the Son of God walked upon it; that joy is now past. It had looked forward, for four thousand years, for the glory of being the dwelling-place of its Creator; that glory is now gone. The nations are in expectation of a Deliverer, and though, with the exception of the people of Judea and Galilee, men are not aware that this Deliverer has come and gone again,—it shall not long be so. They shall hear of His birth, and His life, and His works; they shall hear of His triumphant Ascension, too, for holy Church shall proclaim it in every country of the earth. Eighteen hundred years have elapsed since Ho left this world, and our respectful and loving farewell blends with that which His disciples gave Him when He was mounting up to heaven. Like them, we feel His absence; but like them, we also rejoice in the thought that He is seated at the right hand of His Father, beautiful in His kingly glory. Thou, dear Jesus! hast entered into Thy rest! We adore Thee on Thy throne, we Thy redeemed and the fruit of Thy victory. Bless us! Draw us to Thyself, and grant that Thy last coming may be to us a source of joy rather than of fear!

The two Alleluia-versicles give us the words of the royal psalmist, wherein he celebrates the glorious Ascension of the future Messias, the acclamations of the angels, the loud music of heaven’s trumpets, the gorgeous pageant of the countless fortunate captives of limbo whom the conqueror leads up, as His trophy, to heaven.

Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. Ascendit Deus in jubilatione, et Dominus in voce tubæ. Alleluia.
℣. Dominus in Sina in sancto, ascendens in altum, captivam duxit captivitatem. Alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia. ℣. God ascended in triumph, and the Lord at the sound of the trumpet. Alleluia.
℣. The Lord on Sina, in his holy place, ascending on high, hath led captivity captive. Alleluia.

Gospel

Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Marcum.

Cap. xvi.

In illo tempore: Recumbentibus undecim discipulis, apparuit illis Jesus, et exprobravit incredulitatem eorum et duritiam cordis: quia iis, qui viderant eum resurrexisse, non crediderunt. Et dixit eis: Euntes in mundum universum,prædicate Evangelium omni creaturæ. Qui crediderit et baptizatusfuerit,salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur. Signa autem eos, qui crediderint, hæc sequentur: In nomine meo dæmonia ejicient; linguis loquentur novis: serpentes tollent: et si mortiferum quid biberint, non eis nocebit: super ægros manus imponen t, et bene habebunt. Et Dominus quidem Jesus, postquam locutus est eis, assumptus est in cœlum, et sedet a dextris Dei. Illi autem profecti prædicaverunt ubique, Domino cooperante, et sermonem confirmante,sequentibus signis.
Sequel of the holy Gospel according to Mark.

Ch. xvi.

At that time: Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were at table; and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned. And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues: they shall take up serpents: and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. And the Lord Jesus after he had spoken to them was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going preached everywhere; the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

The deacon having sung these words, an acolyte ascends the arabo and extinguishes the Paschal Candle, the sweet symbol of our Jesus’ presence for the forty days after His resurrection. This expressive rite tells us of the widowhood of holy mother Church, and that we, when we would contemplate our beloved Lord, must turn our hearts to heaven, for it is there that He is to be seen. Alas! how short was His stay here below, and how quickly the time passed! How many ages have gone by, and how many must still come over this poor earth of ours, before she can again behold His face!

The Church languishes after Him, in this dreary exile of the vale of tears, taking care of us, the children her Jesus has given her by His holy Spirit. She feels His absence; and, if we are Christians, we shall feel it too. Oh! when will the day come, whereon reunited to our bodies, we shall be taken up in the clouds to meet Christ, and be with our Lord for ever![22] Then, and then only, shall we have attained the end for which we were created.

All the mysteries of the Word Incarnate were to close with His Ascension; all the graces we receive are to end with ours. This world is but a figure that passeth away;[23] and we are hastening through it to rejoin our divine Leader. In Him are our life and our happiness; it is vain to seek them elsewhere. Whatever brings us nearer to Jesus, is good; whatever alienates us from Him is evil. The mystery of the Ascension is the last ray of light given to us by our Creator, whereby He shows us the path to our heavenly country. If our heart is seeking its Jesus, and longs to come to Him, it is alive with the true life; if its energies are spent upon created things, and it feels no attraction for its Jesus, it is dead.

Let us, therefore, lift up our eyes, as did the disciples, and follow in desire Him who this day ascends to heaven, and prepares a place there for each of His faithful servants. Sursum corda! Hearts on heaven! It is the parting word of our brethren, who accompany the divine Conqueror in His Ascension; it is the hymn wherewith the angels, coming, down to meet their King, invite us to ascend and fill up the vacant thrones: Sursum corda!

Farewell, dear paschal torch, that hast gladdened us with thy lovely flame! Thou hast sweetly spoken to us of Jesus, our light in the darkness of our pilgrimage; and now thou leavest us, telling us that He is no longer to be seen here below, and that we must follow Him to heaven, if we would again behold Him. Farewell, loved symbol made by the hand of our mother, the Church, that thou mightest speak to our hearts! The impressions excited within us, as we looked upon thee, during this holy season of Easter, shall not be forgotten. Thou wast the herald of our Pasch; thy leaving reminds us that the glad time is drawing to its close.

For the Offertory-antiphon, the Church uses the words of David, as before the Gospel. She is taken up with this one glad thought: the triumph of her Spouse, and the joy it caused in heaven. She would have this joy to be shared in by us who are on earth.

Offertory

Ascendit Deus in jubilatione: et Dominus in voce tubæ, alleluia.
God ascended with jubilee, and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet, alleluia.

Our desires, on this day, should be that we may follow our Jesus to life everlasting, and overcome all the hindrances that we may have to encounter on the way thither. This is what the Church asks of God for us, in the Secret.

Secret

Suscipe, Domine, munera, quæ pro Filii tui gloriosa Ascensione deferimus; et concede propitius; ut a præsentibus periculis liberemur, et ad vitam perveniamus æternam. Per eumdem.
Receive, O Lord, the offerings we make in memory of the glorious Ascension of thy Son: and mercifully grant, that we may both be delivered from present danger, and arrive at everlasting life. Through the same, &c.

Preface

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum; qui post Resurrectionem suam omnibus discipulis suis manifestus apparuit, et ipsiscernentibus est elevatus in cœlum, ut nos divinitatis suæ tribueret esse participes. Et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia cœlestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus.
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God, through Christ our Lord; who after his Resurrection appeared openly to all his disciples, and, in their presence ascended into heaven, to make us partakers of his divine nature. And therefore, with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly: Holy, holy, holy.

It is the royal prophet who again speaks in the Communion-anthem. He foretells, a thousand years before the event, that the Emmanuel is to ascend from the east. Mount Olivet, whence our Lord took His departure to His Father’s kingdom, is to the east of Jerusalem.

Communion

Psallite Domino, qui ascendit super cœlos cœlorum ad orientem, alleluia.
Sing to the Lord, who hath ascended towards the east, above all the heavens, alleluia.

The faithful people has just confirmed its union with its divine Head, by receiving the adorable Sacrament; the Church asks of God that this mystery, which contains Jesus within it in an invisible manner, may work in us what it outwardly expresses.

Postcommunion

Præsta nobis, quæsumus omnipotens et misericors Deus, ut quæ visibilibus mysteriis sumenda percepimus, invisibili consequamur effectu. Per Dominum.
Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty and most merciful God, that we may obtain the invisible effects of the visible mysteries we have received. Through, &c.

 

NOON

 

A tradition, handed down from the early ages, and confirmed by the revelations of the saints, tells us that the Ascension of our Lord took place at the hour of noon. The Carmelites of St. Teresa’s reform honour this pious tradition by assembling in the choir, at the hour of midday on the Ascension, and spending it in the contemplation of this last of Jesus’ mysteries, following Him, in thought and desire, to the throne of His glory.

Let us also follow Him; but before looking on the bright noon which smiles on His triumph, let us go back in thought to His first coming among us. It was at midnight, in the stable of Bethlehem. That dark and silent hour was an appropriate commencement to the three and thirty years of His life on earth. He had come to accomplish a great mission: year by year and day by day, He laboured in its fulfilment. It was nigh to its fulfilment, when men laid their sacrilegious hands upon Him, and nailed Him to a cross. It was midday, when He was thus raised up in the air; but the eternal Father would not permit the sun to shine on Jesus’ humiliation. Darkness covered the face of the earth; and that day had no noon. Three hours after, the sun reappeared. Three days after, the Crucified rose again from the tomb, and it was at the early dawn of light.

On this day, yea at this very hour, His work is completed. He has redeemed us, by His Blood, from our sins; He has conquered death by His Resurrection to life: had He not a right to choose, for His Ascension, the hour when the sun is pouring forth his warmest and brightest beams? Hail, holy hour of noon, sacred with thy double consecration, which reminds us daily of the mercy and of the triumph of our Emmanuel, of salvation by His cross, and of heaven by His Ascension!

But art not Thou, O Jesus! O Sun of Justice! art not Thou Thyself the noontide of our souls? Where are we to find that fullness of light for which we were created, where that burning of eternal love which alone can satisfy our longing hearts, but in Thee, who camest down upon the earth to dispel our darkness and our cold? It is in this hope that we venture to address Thee in the sublime words of Thy faithful bride Gertrude: ‘O Love, O noontide, whose ardours are so soothing! Thou art the hour of sacred rest; and the unruffled peace I taste in thee is all my delight. O Thou whom my soul loveth, Thou who art my chosen and my elect above all creatures, tell me, show me, where Thou feedest Thy flock, where Thou liest to rest in the midday. My heart kindles with rapture at thought of Thy tranquil rest at noon! Oh that it were given me to come so near to Thee, that I might be not only near Thee, but in Thee! Beneath Thy genial ray, O Sun of justice, the flowers of all the virtues would spring forth from me, who am but dust and ashes. Then would my soul, rendered fruitful by Thee, my Master and my Spouse, bring forth the noble fruit of every perfection. Then should I be led forth from this valley of sorrows, and be admitted to behold Thy face, so long, so wistfully longed for; and then would it be my everlasting happiness to think that Thou hast not disdained, O Thou spotless Mirror, to unite Thyself to a sinner like me!’[24]

 

VESPERS

 

The Lord Jesus has disappeared from our earth, but His memory and His promises are treasured in the heart of the Church. She follows in spirit the glorious triumph of her Spouse, a triumph so well deserved by His having accomplished the world’s Redemption. She keenly feels her widowhood; but she awaits, with unshaken confidence, the promised Comforter. The hours of this trying day are passing away, and evening is coming on; she once more assembles her children, and, in the Office of Vespers, commemorates all that has happened in this sublime mystery of the Ascension.

The antiphons of the psalms relate the great event of noon; the tone of sadness that runs through their melody, is in keeping with the feelings excited by the separation.

Ant. Viri Galilæi, quid aspicitis in cœlum? Hic Jesus qui assumptus est a vobis in cœlum, sic veniet, alleluia.
Ant. Ye men of Galilee, why look ye up to heaven? This Jesus, who is taken from you into heaven, shall so come, alleluia.

Psalm Dixit Dominus, page 92.


Ant. Cumque intuerentur in cœlum euntem illum, dixerunt, alleluia.
Ant. And when they beheld him going up to heaven, they said: alleluia.

Psalm Confitebor, page 93.


Ant. Elevatis manibus, benedixit eis, et ferebatur in cœlum, alleluia.
Ant. Lifting up his hands, he blessed them, and was carried up to heaven, alleluia.

Psalm Beatus vir, page 94.


Ant. Exaltate regem regum, et hymnum dicite Deo, alleluia.
Ant. Praise ye the King of kings, and sing a hymn to God, alleluia.

Psalm Laudate, pueri, page 95.


Ant. Videntibus illis elevatus est, et nubes suscepit eum in cœlo, alleluia.
Ant. As they looked on, he was raised up, and a cloud received him into heaven, alleluia.

Psalm 116

Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes: laudate eum, omnes populi.
Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus: et veritas Domini manet in æternum.

Ant. Videntibus illis elevatus est, et nubes suscepit eum in cœlo, alleluia.
O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him all ye people.
For his mercy is confirmed upon us: and the truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.

Ant. As they looked on, he was raised up, and a cloud received him into heaven, alleluia.

Capitulum
(Acts of the Apostles, i.)

Primum quidem sermonem feci de omnibus, o Theophile, quae cœpit Jesus facere et docere, usque in diem qua præcipiens apostolis per Spiritum Sanctum, quos elegit, assumptus est.
The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up.

The hymn was composed by St. Ambrose, and is full of sweetness; it was somewhat changed in the seventeenth century, and in this changed form we now have it.

Hymn*

Salutis humanæ sator,
Jesu, voluptas cordium,
Orbis redempti conditor,
Et casta lux amantium.

Qua victus es clementia,
Ut nostra ferres crimina,
Mortem subires innocens,
A morte nos ut tolleres?

Perrumpis infernum chaos,
Vinctis catenas detrahis:
Victor triumpho nobili,
Ad dexteram Patris sedes.

Te cogat indulgentia,
Ut damna nostra sarcias,
Tuique vultus compotes
Dites beato lumine.

Tu dux ad astra et semita,
Sis meta nostris cordibus,
Sis lacrymarum gaudium,
Sis dulce vitæ præmium.

Amen.

℣. Dominus in cœlo, alleluia.
℟. Paravit sedem suam, alleluia.
O Jesus Redeemer of mankind,
joy of our hearts,
Creator of the world redeemed,
and chaste light of them that love thee.

What mercy was it that led thee
to take upon thee our sins?
and suffer death, O innocent victim,
that thou mightest free us from death?

Thou brokest the gates of hell,
and the chains of them that were bound.
A conqueror, with noblest triumph,
thou now sittest at the right hand of the Father.

May thy clemency lead thee
to repair our losses.
Oh! give us to see thy Face,
and enrich us with the blessed light.

Be thou our guide and path to heaven;
be thou the object of our heart’s desire;
be thou the joy of our tears,
and the sweet recompense of a life spent for thee!

Amen.

℣. The Lord, in heaven, alleluia.
℟. Hath prepared his throne, alleluia.

The Magnificat-anthem is an appeal made to our Jesus, that He would he mindful of His own and His Father’s promise, and not delay to console His bride by sending her the holy Spirit. The Church repeats this antiphon every day, till the arrival of the heavenly Guest.

Antiphon of the Magnificat

O rex gloriæ, Domine virtutum, qui triumphator hodie super omnes cœlos ascendisti, ne derelinquas nos orphanos; sed mitte promissum Patris in nos, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.

Oremus.

Concede, quæsumus omnipotens Deus: ut qui hodierna die Unigenitum tuum redemptorem nostrum ad cœlos ascendisse credimus, ipsi quoque mente in cœlestibus habitemus. Per eumdem.
O King of glory, Lord of hosts, who didst this day ascend in triumph above all the heavens! leave us not orphans, but send upon us the Spirit of truth, promised us by the Father, alleluia.

Let us Pray.

Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that we, who believe that thy only-begotten Son, our Redeemer, ascended this day into heaven, may also dwell there in desire. Through the same, &c.

During the days of the octave, we will listen to the several Churches of old celebrating, each in its own style, but all with one and the same faith, the Ascension of our Redeemer. Let us give the first place to the Greek Church, which, in her usual pompous style, commemorates the glories of this mystery. It is her hymn for the evening Office.

Hymn
(In Assumptione Domini, ad Vesperas)

Quando pervenisti, Christe, in montem Olivarum, Patris adimpleturus beneplacitum, obstupuerunt cœlestes angeli, et horruerunt inferorum habitatores. Adstabant autem discipuli cum gaudio trementes, dum ipsis loquereris; tamquam thronus vero, ex adverso præparata erat nubes expectans; portis autem apertis in decore suo cœlum apparebat; et terræ abscondita revelat, ut notus fiat Adæ descensus et reascensus. Sed vestigia quidem exaltabantur tamquam a manu: os vero multum benedicebat, quamdiu audiebatur; nubes excipiebat, et cœlum te intus suscepit. Opus istud magnum præter rerum ordin em operatus es, Domine, ad salutem animarum nostrarum.

Delapsam in inferiores partes terræ naturam Adæ a te, Deus, renovatam, super omnem principatum et potestatem tecum hodie sustulisti; quia enim diligebas, tecum collocasti; quia commiserebaris, tibi univisti; quia unieras simul passus es; quia passus es impassibilis, conglorificasti. At incorporei: Quis est, aiebant, iste vir speciosus? sed non tantum homo, Deus autem et homo, utramque proferens naturam. Unde alii angeli in stolis circum discipulos volantes clamabant: Viri Galilæi, qui a vobis abiit hic Jesus homo Deus, rursum veniet Deus homo, judex vivorum et mortuorum, fidelibus autem dans peccatorum veniam et magnam misericordiam.

Quando assumptus es in gloria, Christe Deus, videntibus discipulis, nubes te cum carne suscipiebant, portæ cœli sublatæ sunt; Angelorum chorus in exsultatione lætabatur; supernæ Virtutes clamabant dicentes: Attollite portas, principes vestras, et introibit Rex gloriæ. Discipuli autem obstupefacti dicebant: Ne separeris a nobis, Pastor bone, sed mitte nobis sanctissimum Spiritum tuum, dirigentem et firmantem animas nostras.

Domine, postquam utpote bonus, mysterium a sæculis et generationibus absconditum implevisti, in montem Olivarum cum discipulis tuis venisti, habens eam quæ te creatorem et omnium opificem genuit. Eam enim quæ in passione tua materno more præ omnibus doluit, oportebat et ob gloriam carnis tuæ majori perfrui gaudio; cujus et nos participes effecti, in tua ad cœlos ascensione, Domine, magnam tuam in nos misericordiam glorificamus.
When thou, O Christ, camest to Mount Olivet, there to fulfil the good pleasure of thy Father, the angels of heaven were in admiration, and the inhabitants of hell trembled. Thy disciples, too, were there, and they thrilled with joy as thou spokest unto them. A cloud, like a throne, hovered above in front, awaiting thee; the gates of heaven were opened, showing the beauty of its courts, and revealing its hidden treasures to the earth, that Adam might thus learn whence he had fallen and whither he was to reascend. Thy feet were suddenly lifted up, as though some hand were raising them. Thy words, as long as they were heard, were nought but blessing. The cloud received thee, and heaven welcomed thee within its bosom. It was for the salvation of our souls, that thou, O Lord, didst achieve this great work, this work surpassing nature’s law.

Thou, O God, didst on this day raise up together with thyself, above all Principalities and Powers, the nature of Adam which had fallen into the deep abyss, but which was restored by thee. Because thou lovedst it, thou placedst it on thine own throne; because thou hadst pity on it, thou unitedst it to thyself; because thou hadst thus united it, thou didst suffer with it; because thou, the impassible, didst thus suffer, thou gavest it to share in thy glory. The angels cried out: ‘Who is this beautiful Man? nay, not Man only, but God and Man, having the Nature of both? ’ Other angels in white garments, hovered round the disciples, and exclaimed: ‘Ye men of Galilee! this Jesus, this ManGod, who hath left you will return the God-Man, the Judge of the living and the dead, to give unto them that are faithful pardon and abundant mercy.’

When thou, O Christ our God, didst ascend into glory, in the sight of thy disciples, a cloud received thee in thy human Nature, and the gates of heaven were uplifted; the angelic choirs exulted with great joy; the heavenly Powers cried out, saying: ‘Lift up your gates, O ye princes! and the King of glory shall enter in! ’ The disciples were amazed, and said to thee: ‘Leave us not, good Shepherd! but send unto us thy holy Spirit, that he may guide and strengthen our souls! ’

After having, O Lord, in thy goodness, accomplished the mystery that was hidden from ages and generations, thou didst go, together with thy disciples to Mount Olivet, having with thee her that had given birth to thee the Creator and Maker of all creatures. It was meet that she, who being thy Mother, had mourned more than all others over thy Passion, should also have greater joy in the glory thus conferred upon thy human Nature. We, therefore, who share in the joy she had in thine Ascension glorify thy great mercy.

O Jesus, our Emmanuel! Thy work is done, and this is the day of Thy entering into Thy rest. In the beginning of the world, Thou didst spend six days in harmonizing the varied portions of the creation; after which, Thou enteredst again into Thy rest. When, later on, Thou wouldst repair Thy work, which satan’s malice had deranged, Thy love induced Thee to live among us for three-and-thirty years, during which Thou didst work our redemption, and restoredst us to the holiness and honour whence we had fallen. Whatsoever had been assigned Thee in the eternal decrees of the blessed Trinity, whatsoever had been foretold of Thee by the prophets, all was done, dear Jesus! not an iota of it all was forgotten. Thy triumphant Ascension was the close of the mission Thou hadst so mercifully undertaken. It was Thy second entrance into Thy rest; but, this time, it was with our human nature which Thou hadst assumed, and which was now to receive divine honour. Thou wouldst have companions in Thine Ascension: the souls Thou hadst liberated from limbo; yea, and when about to leave us, Thou saidst this word of consolation to us: ‘I go to prepare a place for you!'[25]

Confiding O Jesus! in this promise; resolved to follow Thee in all the mysteries achieved by Thee for our sake—in the humility of Thy birth at Bethlehem, in Thy sufferings on Calvary, in the joy of Thy Resurrection—we hope, also, to imitate Thee, when our mortal course is run, in Thy glorious Ascension. Meanwhile, we unite with the holy apostles who rejoiced at Thy triumph, and with the ransomed captives of limbo who entered heaven in Thy company. Watch over us, O divine Shepherd, while we aro in our exile! Tend Thy faithful sheep; let none be lost; lead them all to Thy fold. The mystery of Thine Ascension shows us the object of our existence; it reanimates us to study more attentively, and love more warmly, all Thy other mysteries. Our one ambition, then, our one desire, shall henceforth be our own ascension to heaven and to Thee. It was for this Thou camest into the world: by humbling Thyself to our lowliness, to exalt us to Thine own majesty; and by making Thyself Man, to make man a partaker of Thy Divinity. But until the happy day of our union with Thee, what would become of us without that Power of the Most High whom Thou hast promised to send us, that He may bring us patience during our pilgrimage, fidelity to our absent King, and that solace of a heart exiled from its God, love? Come, then, O holy Spirit! Support our weakness; fix the eye of our souls on the heaven where our King awaits us; and never permit us to set our hearts on a world which, had it every other charm, has not the infinite one of Jesus’ visible presence!

Let us close our feast with this beautiful prayer, taken from the Mozarabic breviary.

Prayer

Unigenite Dei Filius, qui devicta morte de terrenis ad cœlestia transitum faciens, quasi filius hominis apparens, in throno magnam claritatem habens, quem omnis militia cœlestis exercitus angelorum laudat: præbe nobis, ut nullis flagitiorum vinculis in corde hujus saeculi illigemur, qui te ad Patrem ascendisse gloriosa fidei devotione concinimus, ut illic indesinenter cordis nostri dirigatur obtutus, quo tu ascendisti post vulnera gloriosus. Amen.
Only-begotten Son of God! who, having conquered death, didst pass from earth to heaven: who, as Son of Man, art seated in great glory on thy throne, receiving praise from the whole angelic host! grant that we, who in the jubilant devotion of our faith, celebrate thine Ascension to the Father, may not be fettered by the chains of sin to the love of this world; and that the aim of our hearts may unceasingly be directed to the heaven, whither thou didst ascend in glory, after thy Passion. Amen.

[1] Ps. xcv. xcvi. xcvii.
[2] Ps. xxiii. 7.
[3] St. Mark, xvi. 14.
[4] Ibid. 15, 16.
[5] St. Mark, xvi. 17, 18.
[6] St. Luke, xxiv. 49.
[7] Acts, i. 4, 5.
[8] St. John, xiv. 28.
[9] Ps. cix. 7.
[10] Acts, i. 12.
[11] Ibid. 6.
[12] Ibid. 7.
[13] Acts, i. 8.
[14] Constit. Apost. lib. v. cap. xix.
[15] St. Luke, xxiv. 51.
[16] Acts, i. 9.
[17] Acts, i. 10, 11.
[18] St. John, iii. 17.
[19] 1 St. Luke, xxiv. 52.
[20] St. Augustine, Ep. ad Januar.
[21] St. John, viii. 12.
[22] 1 Thess, iv. 16.
[23] 1 Cor. vii. 31.
[24] Exercitia S. Gertrudis, Die V. * In the monastic rite, it is retained in its original form, as written by St. Ambrose. It is preceded by the following responsory: ℟. breve.—Ascendens Christus in altum, * Alleluia, alleluia. Ascendens. ℣. Captivam duxit captivitatem. Alleluia. Gloria Patri, &c. Ascendens. Jesu, nostra redemptio, Amor et desiderium, Deus Creator omnium, Homo in fine temporum. Quæ te vicit dementia, Ut ferres nostra crimina? Crudelem mortem patiens, Ut nos a morte tolieres? Inferni claustra penetrans, Tuos captivos redimens, Victor triumpho nobili, Ad dextram Patris residens. Ipsa te cogat pietas, Ut mala nostra superes Parcendo, et voti compotes, Nos tuo vultu saties. Tu esto nostrum gaudium, Qui es futurus præmium; Sit nostra in te gloria Per cuncta semper sæcula. Amen.
[25] St. John, xiv. 2.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

O Rex gloriæ, Domine virtutum, qui triumphator hodie super omnes cœlos ascendisti, ne derelinquas nos orphanos; sed mitte promissum Patris in nos, Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
O King of glory, Lord of hosts, who didst this day ascend in triumph above all the heavens! leave us not orphans, but send upon us the Spirit of truth, promised by the Father, alleluia.

The feast of the Ascension shows us the work of God in its completion. Hence it is that the Church, in her daily offering of the holy sacrifice, thus addresses the eternal Father: the words occur immediately after the consecration, and contain the motives of her confidence in the divine mercy: ‘Wherefore, O Lord, we Thy servants, as also Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed Passion of Christ Thy Son our Lord, His Resurrection from the dead, and His admirable Ascension into heaven, offer unto Thy most excellent Majesty a pure, holy, and unspotted Host.’ It is not enough for man to hope in the merits of his Redeemer’s Passion, which cleansed him from his sins; it is not enough for him to add to the commemoration of the Passion that of the Resurrection, whereby our Redeemer conquered death; man is not saved, he is not reinstated, except by uniting these two mysteries with a third: the Ascension of the same Jesus who was crucified and rose again. During the forty days of His glorified life on earth, Jesus was still an exile; and, like Him, we also are exiles until such time as the gate of heaven, which has been closed for four thousand years, shall be thrown open, both for Him and for us.

God, in His infinite goodness, made man for a nobler end than that of being mere lord of creation; He gave him a higher destiny than that of knowing such truths as his natural powers could grasp, and of practising virtues that were within the reach of his moral capabilities, and of paying to his Creator an imperfect worship. In His omnipotence and love, He gave to this frail creature an end far above his nature. Though inferior to the angel, and uniting in himself the two natures of matter and spirit, man was created to the same end as the angel. Both were to dwell for eternity in heaven; both were to be eternally happy in the face-to-face vision of God, that is, in the closest union with the sovereign Good. Grace—that wondrous and divine power—was to fit them for the supernatural end prepared for them by the gratuitous goodness of their Creator. This was the design which God had decreed from all eternity: to raise up to Himself these creatures that He had drawn out of nothingness, and to enrich them, agreeably to their sublime destiny, with the treasures of His love and His light.

We know the history of the fallen angels. They revolted against the commandment given them by God as a test of their fidelity, and as a condition of their being admitted into eternal happiness. Rebels were found in each of the choirs. They fell; but the fall and its punishment were personal, and injured none but the actual transgressors. The angels who remained faithful were at once rewarded with the beatific vision and possession of the sovereign Good. Thus did God vouchsafe to make created beings partake in His own infinite happiness: the first elect were the good angels of the nine choirs.

Man was created after the angels; he too fell, and his sin severed the link which united him with God. The human race was, at that time, represented by one man and woman; when they fell, all fell. The gate of heaven was then shut against mankind, for the fall of Adam and Eve implicated us their children; neither could they transmit to us an inheritance which they themselves had lost. Instead of a quick and happy passage through this world, and then a glorious ascension into heaven, we were to have a life short indeed but full of misery, a grave, and corruption. As to our soul, even had she aspired to the supernatural happiness for which she was created, she could never have attained to it. Man had preferred earth for his portion, and the earth was given to him; but this only for a few short years, after which others would take his place, disappear in their turn, and so on to the end, as long as it should please God to perpetuate this fallen portion of His creation.

Yes, it is thus we deserved to be treated; but our merciful Creator had compassion upon us. He hated sin; but He had created us that He might make us partakers of His own glory, and He would not have His design frustrated. The earth was not to be an abode for man to be merely born, live a few days, and then die. When the fulness of time should come, there was to appear in the world a Man, not indeed the first of a new creation, but one like ourselves and of our own race, or, as the apostle expresses it, ‘made of a woman.’[1] This Man, who was to be heavenly and yet of earth, would share our misfortunes with us; He would die like us; He would be buried like us; but, on the third day, He would rise again, and men would see Him resplendent with glory and immortality. What a joy for us, who have within us ‘the answer of death,’ to see such a victory gained by One, who is one of ourselves, ‘flesh of our flesh!’

Thus were the divine intentions to be realized in our regard. Our earth presents to our Creator a new Adam. He cannot stay here, for He has conquered death; He must ascend to heaven, and if her gates be closed, she must open them and receive Him. ‘Lift up your gates, O ye princes! and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates! and the King of glory shall enter in!'[2] Oh that He would take us thither with Him, for He is our brother, and He assures us that His ‘delight is to be with the children of men’![3] But what a joy it is for us to see our Jesus ascend to heaven! He is the holiest, the purest, the loveliest, of our race; He is the Son of a spotless Mother: let Him go and represent us in the kingdom of our inheritance. It is our own earth that sends Him; she is no longer a desert, now that she has produced such a flower, and such a fruit, for heaven. A flood of light poured into this lowly vale of tears, when the gates of heaven were raised up to receive Him. ‘Be Thou exalted, O Lord, in Thine own strength! and we, who are still on the earth, will sing and praise Thy power ’![4] Receive, O eternal Father, the brother whom we send to Thee; sinners though we are, this brother of ours is infinitely holy and perfect. Where is the curse that once fastened on our earth?’The earth hath given her fruit’![5] And if we may presume so far as to see in Him the first-fruits of a future harvest to be gathered into Thy house, may we not rejoice in the thought that the Ascension of our Jesus was the day whereon Thy primal work was restored to Thee?

Let us, to-day, borrow from the Armenian Church one of her sweetest hymns. Let us unite with her in sharing in the joy felt by the holy angels, when they saw the God-Man rising from earth, and taking possession of the highest throne in heaven.

Potestates cœli territæ sunt, videntes ascensum tuum, Christe: alter ad alterum pavescentes dicebant: quis est iste rex gloriæ?

Hic est incarnatus Deus Verbum, qui in cruce peccatum occidit, et supervolans gloriose, venit in cœlum, Dominus fortis virtute sua.

Hic est qui de monumento surrexit, et destruxit infernum, atque superseandens gloriose venit ad Patrem, Dominus potens in praelio.

Qui ascendit hodie divina potestate in patrio curru, ministrantibus ei angelicis choris, qui canebant dicentes: Attollite portas, principes, vestras, et introibit rex gloriae.

Stupuerunt supernae Potestates, et tremenda voce clamabant ad invicem: Quis est iste rex gloriae, qui venit in carne et mira virtute? Attollite, attollite portas, principes, vestras, et introibit rex gloriae.

Modulabantur superni Principatus, mirabili voce cantabant canticum novum, dicentes: Ipse est rex gloriae, salvator mundi et liberator generis humani; attollite portas, principes, vestras, et introibit rex gloriæ.

Qui complantati facti sumus similitudinis mortis tuæ, Fili Dei, dignos fac nos conformes fieri tibi, gloriæ rex; tibi cantent Ecclesiæ sanctorum cantica spiritualia.

Veterem hominem concrucifixum tibi fecisti et stimulum peccati extinxisti; liberasti nos vivifico ligno, cui affixus es, et guttæ sanguinis tui inebriarunt orbem; tibi cantent Ecclesiæ sanctorum cantica spiritualia.

Propter miserationem divinae humamtionis tuæ participes fecisti nos corporis tui et sanguinis, per sacrificium tuum Patri in odorem suavitatis oblatum, corporis a nobis sumpti, et ascendisti pellucidis nubibus, manifestatus Potestatibus ac Principatibus, qui stupefacti interrogabant: Quis est iste qui properans venit de Edom? Et per Ecclesiam tuam didicerunt multiformem sapientiam tuam; tibi cantent Ecclesiae sanctorum cantica spiritualia.

The Powers of heaven trembled, when they witnessed thine Ascension, O Christ, and said to each other in fear, 'Who is this king of glory?'

This is God the Word made Flesh, who put sin to death upon the cross, and ascending in glory, entered heaven: the Lord, mighty in his power.

This is he that rose from the tomb, and destroyed death, and now comes by a glorious Ascension, to the Father: he is the Lord, mighty in war.

This is he that ascended today, by his divine power, in his Father’s chariot: choirs of angels ministered to him, and sang, saying: ‘Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and the King of glory shall enter in!’

The heavenly powers were amazed, and cried unto each other with tremulous voice: ‘Who is this king of glory, that cometh in the flesh and in wondrous power? Lift up, lift up your gates, O ye princes, and the King of glory shall enter in!’

The Principalities of heaven were heard singing a new canticle, and saying in a tone of glad admiration: ‘It is the King of glory, the Saviour and deliverer of mankind! Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and the King of glory shall enter in!

We have been planted together in the likeness of thy death, O Son of God! Make us worthy to be made like unto thee, O King of glory! Let the Churches of the saints sing to thee their spiritual canticles!

Thou didst crucify together with thyself the old man, and thou tookest away the sting of sin; thou gavest us liberty, by the life-giving tree to which thou wast fastened, and thy Blood has inebriated the whole earth. Let the Churches of the saints sing to thee their spiritual canticles.

Through the mercy that led thy divine nature to assume ours, thou hast made us partakers of thy Body and Blood, by the sacrifice of the Body thou hadst taken to thyself, a sacrifice which thou offeredst to the Father in an odour of sweetness. Then didst thou ascend, on a bright cloud, and wast seen by the Powers and Principalities, who asked each other in wonderment: 'Who is this that cometh, in haste, from Edom?’ The faithful have been taught thy manifold wisdom. Let the Churches of the saints sing to thee their spiritual canticles!

[1] Gal. iv. 4.
[2] Ps. xxiii. 7.
[3] Prov. viii. 31.
[4] Ps. xx. 14.
[5] Ibid lxvi 7.

 

From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

O Rex gloriæ, Domine virtutum, qui triumphator hodie super omnes cœlos ascendisti, ne derelinquas nos orphanos; sed mitte promissum Patris in nos Spiritum veritatis, alleluia.
O King of glory, Lord of hosts, who didst this day ascend in triumph above all the heavens! leave us not orphans, but send upon us the Spirit of truth, promised by the Father, alleluia.

Jesus, then, the Man who dwelt on the earth and was perfect in all holiness, has ascended into heaven. This earth, accursed of God as it was, has produced the fairest fruit of heaven; and heaven with its gates shut against our race, has had to open them for the entrance of a Son of Adam. It is the mystery of the Ascension; but it is only a part, and it behoves us to know the mystery in its fulness. Let us give ear to the apostle of the Gentiles: ‘God who is rich in mercy, through His exceeding charity wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ: and hath raised us up together with Him, and hath made us sit in the heavenly places together with Him.’[1] We have celebrated the Pasch of our Saviour’s Resurrection as our own resurrection; we must, agreeably to the apostle’s teaching, celebrate also His Ascension as our own. Let us weigh well the expression: ‘God hath made us sit in the heavenly places together with Christ.’ So then in the Ascension, it is not Jesus alone who ascends into heaven; we ascend thither with Him. It is not He alone that is enthroned there in glory; we are enthroned through and together with Him.

That we may the better understand this truth, let us remember that the Son of God did not assume our human nature with a view to the exclusive glorification of the Flesh which He united to His own divine Person. He came to be our Head. We, consequently, are His members; and where He is, we also are to be; at least, such is His intention, as He implied at the last Supper, when He said: ‘Father! I will that where I am, they also whom Thou hast given Me may be with Me, that they may see My glory which Thou hast given Me.’[2] And what is the glory given to Him by His Father? Let us hearken to the royal prophet, who, speaking of the future Ascension, says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord: Sit Thou at My right hand!’[3]

It is, then, on the very throne of the eternal Father, it is at His right hand, that we shall see Him whom the apostle calls our forerunner.[4] We shall be united with Jesus, as members to our Head; so that His glory will be ours; we shall be kings, with His kingship; He will make us partake of all that He Himself has, for He tells us that we are His joint-heirs.[5]

From this it follows that the august mystery of the Ascension, which began on the day of Jesus’ entrance into heaven, will continue, until His mystical body has received its completion by the ascension of the last of the elect. Look at that countless host of holy souls who were the earliest companions of His triumph: foremost are our first parents; then the patriarchs, the prophets, and the just of every generation of the preceding four thousand years! They had been imprisoned in limbo, but He liberated them, gave them of His own brightness, and made them His partners in the glory of His Ascension. They were His trophy; they formed His court, as He passed from earth to heaven. Well did we exclaim in the words of holy David: ‘Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth! Sing ye to the Lord. Sing ye to God, who mounteth above the heaven of heavens, towards the east.’[6]

The angels were ready to receive our Emmanuel; and then began that sublime dialogue, which the royal psalmist was permitted to hear and prophesy. The glad countless legion of the holy souls, who escorted the divine conqueror, cried out to the guardians of the heavenly Jerusalem: ‘Lift up your gates, O ye princes! Be ye lifted up, O eternal gates! and the King of glory shall enter in.’ The faithful angels replied: ‘Who is this King of glory?’ ‘It is the Lord,’ responded the elect of earth: ‘It is the Lord who is strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle.’ Well might they say this of our Jesus, who had vanquished satan, death and hell, and brought themselves to the city’s gate as a sample of His stupendous conquest. The angels repeated their question; the saints re-echoed their reply; the eternal gates were thrown open, and the King and His courtiers entered into heaven.[7]

The gates, then, are opened to receive our Redeemer, and opened He would have them remain for us to follow Him. Admirable Ascension! oh, let us linger in its contemplation! Jesus inaugurates the grand mystery by His own entrance into heaven, and then perpetuates it by the ascension of His elect of each successive generation. There is a ceaseless procession up to heaven; for some happy souls are ever finishing their purification in purgatory, while some still happier ones are winging their rapid flight direct from this earthly vale of sorrows. Hail, then, O glorious mystery! fruit of the flowers of so many mysteries; term, fulfilment, perfection of our Creator’s decree! Alas! thou hadst a long interruption by Adam’s sin; but Jesus’ triumph restored thy reign on earth, and this earth shall live in thy beauty and grace till that word shall be uttered by the angel: ‘Time shall be no more!’[8] O mystery of joy and hope, be thou accomplished in me!

Permit us, then, O Jesus, to apply to ourselves what Thou saidst to Thine apostles: ‘I go to prepare a place for you!’[9] This has been Thy aim in all Thou hast done for us: Thou camest into this world to open heaven for us. Thy holy bride, the Church, bids us fix our eyes on heaven; she points to its opened gates, and shows us the bright track through which is passing up from earth an unbroken line of souls. We are still in exile; but the eye of our faith sees Thee in that land above, Thee the Son of Man throned at the right hand of the Ancient of days.[10] How are we to reach Thee, dear Jesus? We cannot, as Thou didst, ascend by our own power: Thou must needs fulfil Thy promise, and our desire, of drawing us to Thyself.[11] It was the object after which Thy blessed Mother also sighed, when Thou didst leave her on earth; she longed for the blissful hour of Thy taking her to Thyself, and awaited Thy call with faith, labouring meanwhile for Thy glory, and living with Thee, though not seeing Thee. Give us to imitate the faith and love of this Thy Mother, that so we may apply to ourselves those words of Thine apostle: ‘We are already saved, by hope.’[12] Yes, we shall be so, if Thou send us, according to Thy promise, the holy Spirit whom we so ardently desire to receive; for He is to confirm within us all that Thy mysteries have produced in our souls; He is to be to us a pledge of our future glorious ascension.

In presenting our petitions this day to heaven, let us take, as addressed to ourselves, the sublime instructions given by the Gothic Church of Spain, on the Ascension feast, to her children.

Missa

Placeat, dilectissimi fratres, saecularium cogitationum fasce deposito, erectis in sublime mentibus subvolare: et impositam aetheris fastigio assumpti hominis communionem, sequacibus cordis oculis contueri. Ad incomparabilem nobis claritatem attonitus vocandus aspectus, est Jesus Dominus noster: humilitatem nobis terrarum cœlorum dignitate commutat: acutus necesse est visus esse respicere quo sequimur. Hodie salvator noster post assumptionem carnis, sedem repetit deitatis. Hodie hominem suum intulit Patri, quem obtulit passioni. Hunc exaltans in cœlis, quem humiliaverat in infernis. Hic visurus gloriam, qui viderat sepulturam. Et qui adversus mortem mortis suæ dedit beneficium, ad spem vitae donavit resurrectionis exemplum. Hodie rediit ad Patrem, cum tamen sine Patris, qui sibi aequalis est, potestate non venerit. Hodie ascendit in cœlum qui obsequia cœlestium cum descenderet, non amisit. Ita in Patris natura unitate consistens, ut cum homo cœlum novus intraret, novum tamen Deus hominem non haberet. Petamus igitur ab omnipotentia Patris, per nomen Filii salvatoris, gratiæ spiritalis ingressum, aeternæ beatitu- dinis donum, beatae mansionis ascensum, catholicae credulitatis augmentum, haereticae infidelitatis, excidium. Audiet profecto in confessione, quos in perditione quaesivit. Adstitit suis, qui non destitit alienis. Aderit agnitus, qui non defuit agnoscendus. Non patietur orphanos esse devotos, qui filios facere dignatus est inimicos. Dabit effectum supplicationis, qui promisit Spiritum sanctitatis. Amen.
We beseech you, dearly beloved brethren, that, laying aside the weight of worldly thoughts, you would raise up your minds, and soar to heavenly things, and see, with the attentive eye of the heart, how Christ placed your own human nature, which he had assumed, in the highest heavens. The incomparable brightness on which we are invited to fix our astonished gaze, is Jesus our Lord. He exchanges the lowliness of this earthly dwelling for the glory of heaven. How quick must our sight be, that it may see the land, whither we are to follow him! To-day our Saviour, after assuming our human nature, returned to the throne of the Godhead. Today, he offered to his Father that same human nature, which he had previously offered to the endurance of his Passion. He exalted in heaven the Humanity that he had humbled in limbo. He well deserved to see glory, who had seen the tomb. He who conferred on us his own death, that he might put ours to death, gave us the example of his Resurrection, that he might gladden us with the hope of life. To-day, he returned to the Father, though he had not been here on earth without possessing all the power of the Father, who is co-equal with him. To-day, he ascended into heaven, though he had not lost the adoration of the angels when he descended upon our earth. One with the Father in unity of substance, he so entered into heaven as the new Man, that he was not new to God. Let us, therefore, ask the almighty Father, through the name of his Son, our Saviour, that he grant us admission into a spiritual life of grace, the gift of eternal happiness, an ascension into the mansion of bliss, an increase of Catholic faith, and the destruction of heretical disbelief. He, surely, will hear us, now that we praise him who went in search of us when we were lost. He will assist us that are now his people, who abandoned us not when we were aliens. He will be with us now that we know him, for he was not absent from us even when we knew him not. He will not suffer us to be orphans now that we are devoted to him, for he vouchsafed to make us his children when we were his enemies. He will grant us what we ask, for he has promised to send us the Holy Ghost. Amen.

[1] Eph. ii. 4,6.
[2] St. John, xvii. 24.
[3] Ps. cix. 1.
[4] Heb. vi. 20.
[5] Rom. viii. 17.
[6] Ps. lxvii. 33, 34.
[7] Ibid xxiii.
[8] Apoc. x, 6.
[9] St. John, xiv. 2.
[10] Dan. vii. 13.
[11] St. John, xii. 32.
[12] Rom. viii. 24.

 

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